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i'ROl-USSOR 11. 

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VOI,, V, 









Condition of the Jews in Poland before the Outbreak of Per- 
secution Influence of the Jesuits Characteristics of 
Poles and Jews The Home of the Cossacks Repression 
of the Cossacks by the Government Jews appointed as 
Tax Farmers Jurisdiction of the Synods The Study of 
the Talmud in Poland Hebrew Literature in that Coun- 
try becomes entirely Rabbinical Character of Polish Ju- 
daism Jews and Cossacks Chmielnicki Sufferings 'of 
the Jews in Consequence of his Successes The Tartar 
Haiclamaks Fearful Massacres in Nemirov, Tulczyn, and 
Homel Prince Vishnioviecki Massacres at Polonnoie, 
Lemberg, Narol, and in Other Towns John Casimir 
Lipmann Heller and Sabbata'i Cohen Renewal of the 
War between Cossacks and Poles Russians join Cos- 
sacks in attacking the Jews Charles X of Sweden The 
Polish Fugitives " Polonization " of Judaism . page i 

1648 1656 c, E. 



Obstacles to the Resettlement of Jews in England Manas- 
sch ben Israel His Character and Attainments Chris- 
tian Students of Jewish Literature: Scaliger, the Buxtorfs, 
Selrlcn, and Vossius Women devote themselves to He- 
brew The Fifth-Monarchy Men: Expectation of the Mil- 
lennium Enthusiastic Friends of the Jews The Puri- 
tans Cromwell and Holmes Nicholas' Protection of the 
Jews" The Hope of Israel "Fresh Victims of the In- 
quisition Manasseh ben' Israel's Negotiations with the 
English Parliament He journeys to London, and is gra- 
ciously received by Cromwell A Council sits at White- 


hall to decide the Question of the Re-admission of the 
j ews Prynne's ant Jewish Work Controversial Pam- 
phlets Manasseh's " Vindication " The Re-admission 
of the Jews connived at P a e l8 

1655 1657 c. E. 


Condition of Judaism Complete Triumph of the Kabbala 
The Disciples of Isaac Lurya Vital Calabrese, Abraham 
de Herrera, and Isaiah Hurwitz Immanuel Aboab 
Uriel da Costa; his Career and Death Leo Modena; his 
Character and his Writings Deborah Ascarelli and Sarah 
Copia Sullam, Jewish Authoresses Leo Modena's Veiled 
Scepticism The Travels and Influence of Joseph Del- 
medigo The Writings of Simone Luzzatto - . page 5* 

1620 1660 c. E. 


Spinoza's Youth and Education His Intellectual Breach 
with Judaism Fresh Martyrs of the Inquisition The 
Rabbis and Spinoza Excommunication Spinoza's 
" Tractate 31 and " Ethics " Spinoza's Writings Concern- 
ing Judaism Spinoza's Contemporaries in Amsterdam 
De Paz and Penso The Mystical Character of the Years 
1648 and 1666 Sabbatal Zevi's Early Career The Jeru- 
salem Community Sabbatai's Travels Nathan (Jhazati 
Sabbatai announced in Smyrna as the Messiah Spread 
of Enthusiastic Belief in the pseudo-Messiah Manoel 
Texeira Ritual Changes introduced by the Sabbatians 
Sabbata'i proceeds to Constantinople Nchcmtah Cohen 
Sabbata'i Zevi's Apostasy to Islam and its Consequences 
Continuation of the Sabbatian Movement Death of 
Sabbatai and Spinoza Results of the Sabbatiau Impos- 
ture page 86 

1656 1677 c - E - 



Jews under Mahometan Rulers Expulsion from Vienna- 
Jews admitted by Elector Frederick William into the 


Mark of Brandenburg Charge of Child-murder in Metz 
Milder Treatment of Jews throughout Europe Chris- 
tian Champions of the Jews: Jurieu, Oliger Pauli, and 
Moses Germanus Predilection of Christians for the Study 
of Jewish Literature Richard Simon Interest taken by 
Charles XI in the Karaites Peringer and Jacob Trigland 
German Attacks on Judaism by Wiilfer, WagenseiT, and 
Eiscnmcngcr Circumstances of the Publication of Ju- 
daism Unmasked The Alenu Prayer Surenhuysius, 
Basnagc, linger, Wolf, and Toland .... page 168 

1669 1700 c. E, 


Low Condition of the Jews at the End of the Seventeenth 
Century Representatives of Culture: David Nieto, Je- 
huda P>rieli The Kabbala Jewish Chroniclers Lopez 
Laguna translates the Psalms into Spanish De Barrios 
The Race after Wealth General Poverty of the Jews 
Revival of Sabbatianism Daniel Israel Bonafotix, Car- 
closa, Mordccai of Eisenstadt, Jacob Querido, and Be- 
rachya Sabbatianism in Poland Abraham Cuenqui 
Judah Chassid Chayim Malach Solomon Ayllon 
Nchcmiah Chayon David Oppenheim's Famous Library 
Chacham Zevi The Controversy on Chayon's Hereti- 
cal Works in Amsterdam page 199 

1700 1725 c. E. 


Poetical Works of Moses Chayim Luzzatto Luzzatto en- 
snared in the Kabbala His Contest with Rabbinical Au- 
thorities Luzzatto's Last Drama Jonathan Eibeschiitz 
Character and Education of Eibeschiitz His Relations 
with the Jesuits in Prague The Austrian War of Succes- 
sionExpulsion of the Jews from Prague Eibeschiitz 
becomes Rabbi of Altona Jacob Emden Eibeschiitz 
charged with Heresy The Controversy between Emden 
and Eibeschiitz The Amulets Party Strife Interfer- 
ence by Christians and the Civil Authorities Revival^ of 
Sabbatianism Jacob Frank Lejbowicz and the Frankists 
The Doctrine of the Trinity Excesses of the Frankists. 

page 232 




Renaissance of the Jewish Race Moses Mendelssohn 
His Youth Improves Hebrew Style Lcssing and Men- 
delssohn Mendelssohn's Writings The JBonnct-Lavater 
Controversy Kolbele The Burial Question Reimarus 
Anonymous Publication of his Work Lessing's " Na- 
than the Wise" Mendelssohn in "Nathan" Mendels- 
sohn's Pentateuch Opposition to it The " Berlin Re- 
ligion " Montesquieu Voltaire Portuguese M arran < )S 
in Bordeaux Isaac Pinto His Defense of Portuguese 
Jews Dohm and Mendelssohn Joseph II of Austria 
Michaelis Mendelssohn's " Jerusalem " Wcsscly : his 
Circular Letter Mendelssohn's Death . . . page 291 

1750 1786 c. E. 


The Alliance of Reason with Mysticism Israel Baalshem, 
his Career and Reputation Movement against Rabbin- 
ism The "Zaddik" Beer Mizricz, his Arrogance and 
Deceptions The Devotional Methods of the Chassidim 
Their Liturgy Dissolution of the Synods " of the Four 
Countries" Cossack Massacres in Poland Elijah Wil- 
na, his Character and Method of Research The Mizricz 
and Karlin Chassidim Circumstances prove Favorable 
to the Spread of the New Sect Vigorous Proceedings 
against them in Wilna Death of Beer Mizricz Progress 
of Chassidism despite the Persecution of its Opponents. 

1750 1786 c. E. P*ge 374 



The Progressionists The Gatherer (Mcasscif) David 


Mendes Moses Ensheitn Wessely's M'osaid Marcus 
Herz Solomon Maimon Culture of the Berlin Jews 
Influence of French Literature First Step for Raising- 
the Jews The Progressive and Orthodox Parties The 
Society of Friends Friedlancler and Conversion De- 
pravity of Berlin Jewesses Henrietta Hera HumboMt 
Dorothea Mendelssohn Schlegd Rachel Schleier- 
macher Chateaubriand page 395 

17861791 c. E. 




Foreshadowing of the French Revolution Cerf Berr 
iMinibeuu on the Jewish Question in France Berr Isaac 
ierr The Jewish Question and the National Assembly 
u i Utilization of Portuguese Jews Efforts to equalize 
\iris Jews Jewish Question deferred Equalization of 
M-cnch Jews Reign of Terror Equalization of Jews of 
lolland Adath Jeshurun Congregation Spread of 
1 unnncipation Bonaparte in Palestine Fichte's Jew- 
h:itrcd The Poll-Tax Grund's "Petition of Jews of 
( Icrmany " Jacobson Breidenbach Lefrank Alexan- 
der T of Russia: his Attempts to improve the Condition of 
the Jews of Russia page 429 

1791 1805 c. E. 


Jew-hatred in Strasburg Bonald's Accusations Plots 
against French Jews Furtado David Sinzheim As- 
sembly of Notables Italian Deputies The Twelve Ques- 
tions Debate on Mixed Marriages The Paris Synhe- 
drion Its Constitution Napoleon's Enactments Is- 
rael Jacobson Consistory of Westphalia Emancipation 
in Germany In the Hanse-Towhs Restrictions in Sax- 
ony p&ge 474 

1806 1813 c. E. 


The Jews in the Wars for Freedom The Congress of Vi- 
enna II ardcuberg and Metternich Rubs' Christian 
Germanism Jew-hatred in Germany and Rome German 
Act of Federation Ewald's Defense of Judaism Jew- 
hatred iti Prussia Lewis Way Congress at Aix Hep- 
hep Persecution Hartwig Hundt Julius von Voss 
Jewish Avengers page 510 

1813 1818 c. E. 




Borne and Heine Dome's Youth His Attitude to Judaism 
His Love of Liberty His Defense of the Jews Heine : 
his Position with Regard to Judaism The Rabbi of Bach- 
arach Heine's Thoughts 'upon Judaism Influence of 

Borne and Heine page 53^ 

1819 1830 c. E. 



Segregation of the Jews Its Results Secession and Obsti- 
nate Conservatism Israel Jacobson His Reforms The 
Hamburg Reform Temple Union Gotthold Salomon 
Decay of Rabbinical Authority Eleazar Libermann 
Aaron Cliorin Lazarus Riesser Party Strife Isaac 
Bernays His Writings Bernays in Hamburg Mann- 
heimer His Congregation in Vienna Berlin Society for 
Culture Edward Cans His Baptism Collapse of the 
Society for Culture page 557 

1818 1830 c. E. 



Dawn of Self-respect Research into Jewish History Han- 
nah Adams Solomon Lowisolm Jost His I listory 
The Revolution of July (1830) Gabriel Ricsscr His 
Lectures Steinheim His Works His " Revelation " 
Nachman Krochmal Rapoport Erter His Poems 
Rapoport's Writings Znnz Luzzatto Plis Exegesis 
Geiger The "Nineteen Letters" of Ben Usicl New 
School of Reform Joel Jacoby f>agc 589 

1830 1840 c. E. 


Mehmet Ali Ratti Menton Damascus Father Tomaso 
His Disappearance Blood Accusation against the fcws 
of Damascus Imprisonment of Accused Their Tor- 


turcs and Martyrdom Blood Accusation in Rhodes 
In Prussia Adolf Cremieux Meeting of English Jews 
Moses Montefiore Nathaniel de Rothschild Merlato, 
the Austrian Consul Plots Thiers Steps taken by the 
Jc\vs in Paris and London Bernard van Oven Mansion 
Rouse Meeting 1 Montefiore, Cremieux, and others sent 
to Egypt Solomon Munk page 632 

1840 c. E. 




Return of Montefiore and Cremieux from the East Patri- 
otic Suggestions General Indecision Gabriel Riesser 
Michael Creizenach Reform Party in Frankfort Rab- 
binical Assembly Holdheim Reform Association 
Zachariah Frankel The Berlin Reform Temple Michael 
Sachs H is Character His Biblical Exegesis Hold- 
heim and Sachs The Jewish German Church Pro- 
gress of Jewish Literature Ewald and his Works En- 
franchisement of English Jews The Breslau Jewish Col- 
lege Its Founders The Mortara Case Pope Pius IX 
The Alliance Israelite Astruc, Cohn, Caballo, Masuel, 
Nettcr The American Jews The "Union of American 
Hebrew Congregations " The Anglo-Jewish Association 
Benisch, Lowy The " Israelitische Allianz" Wert- 
heimer, Goldschfniclt, Kuranda Rapid Social Advance 
of the Jews Rise of Anti-Semitism .... page 667 

18401870 C. E. 

Retrospect page 705 




Condition of the Jews in Poland before the Outbreak of Persecution- 
Influence of the Jesuits Characteristics of Poles and Jews The 
Home of the CossacksRepression of the Cossacks by the 
Government Jews appointed as Tax Farmers Jurisdiction of 
the Synods The Study of the Talmud in Poland Hebrew Liter- 
ature in that Country becomes entirely Rabbinical Character 
of Polish Judaism Jews and Cossacks Chmielnicki Suffer- 
ings of the Jews in consequence of his Successes The Tartar 
Haidamaks Fearful Massacres in Nemirov, Tulczyn, and 
Homel Prince Vishnioviecki Massacres at Polonnoie, Lena- 
berg, Narol, and in other Towns John Casimir Lipmann Heller 
and Sabbata'f Cohen Renewal of the War between Cossacks 
and Poles Russians join Cossacks in attacking the Jews- 
Charles X of Sweden The Polish Fugitives " Polonization " 
of Judaism. 

16481656 c. E. 

POLAND ceased to be a haven for the sons of Judah, 
when its short-sighted kings summoned the Jesuits 
to supervise the training of the young nobles and 
the clergy and crush th$ spirit of the Polish dis- 
sidents. These originators of disunion, to whom 
the frequent partition of Poland must be attributed, 
sought to undermine the unobtrusive power which 
the Jews, through their money and prudence, 
exercised over the nobles, and they combined with 
their other foes, German workmen and trades- 
people, members of the guilds, to restrict and 
oppress them* After that time there were repeated 
persecutions of Jews in Poland ; sometimes the 
German guild members, sometimes the disciples of 


the Jesuits, raised a hue and cry against them. 
Still, in the calamities of the Thirty Years' War, 
fugitive Jews sought Poland, because the canonical 
laws against' Jews were not applied there with strict- 
ness. The high nobility continued to be dependent 
on Jews, who in a measure counterbalanced the 
national defects. Polish flightiness, levity, unsteadi- 
ness, extravagance, and recklessness were compen- 
sated for by Jewish prudence, sagacity, economy, 
and cautiousness. The Jew was more than a finan- 
cier -to the Polish nobleman ; he was his help in 
embarrassment, his prudent adviser, his all-in-all. 
Especially did the nobility make use of Jews in de- 
veloping recently established colonies, for which 
they had neither the necessary perseverance nor 
the ability. Colonies had gradually been formed on 
the lower Dnieper and the northern shore of the 
Black Sea, by runaway Polish serfs, criminals, ad- 
venturers from every province, peasants, and nobles, 
who felt themselves cramped and endangered in 
their homes. These outcasts formed the root of the 
Cossack race at the waterfalls of the Dnieper 
(Za-Porogi), whence the Cossacks obtained the name 
of Zaporogians. To maintain themselves, they took 
to plundering the neighboring Tartars. They be- 
came inured to war, and with every success their 
courage and independent spirit increased. 

The kings, who needed the Cossacks in military 
undertakings and to ward off the inroads of Tartars 
and Turks, granted them some independence in the 
Ukraine and Little Russia, and appointed a chief- 
tain over them from their own midst, an Attaman, 
or Hetman, with special marks of dignity. But the 
bigoted temper of King Sigismund III and the 
Jesuits made the Cossacks, who might have become 
an element of strength for Poland, the source of 
endless discontent and rebellipn. The Zaporogians 
for the most part were adherents of the Greek 
Church, the Greek Catholic confession being pre- 


dominant in southern Poland. After the popes 
by means of the Jesuits had weakened and oppress- 
ed the Polish dissidents, they labored to unite the 
Greek Catholics with the Romish Church or to ex- 
tirpate them. With the warlike spirit of the Cos- 
sacks this change was not easy ; hence a regular 
system of enslavement was employed against them. 
Three noble houses, the Koniecpolski, Vishnioviecki, 
and Potocki, had control of colonization in the 
Ukraine and Little Russia, and they transferred to 
their Jewish business agents the farming of the 
oppressive imposts falling on the Cossacks. Thus 
Jewish communities gradually spread in the Ukraine, 
Little Russia, and even beyond these provinces. 
The Cossacks, for instance, had to pay a tax at the 
birth of a child and on every marriage. That there 
might be no evasion, the Jewish revenue farmers 
had the keys of the Greek churches, and when the 
clergyman wished to perform a baptism or a mar- 
riage, he was obliged to ask them for the key. In 
general, the position of the Jews in districts where 
none but Poles dwelt was better than in those which 
besides Polish inhabitants contained a German pop- 
ulation, as was the case in the large cities, Posen, 
Cracow, Lublin, and Lemberg. 

By reason of their great number, their import- 
ance, and their compact union, the Jews in Poland 
formed a state within a state. The general 
synod, which assembled twice a year at Lublin and 
Jaroslaw, formed a legislative and judicial parlia- 
ment from which there was no appeal. At first 
called the Synod of the Three Countries, it became 
in the first quarter of the seventeenth century the 
Synod of the Four Countries (Vaad Arba Arazoth). 
An elective president (Parnes di Arba Arazoth) 
was at the head, and conducted public affairs. The 
communities and rabbis had civil, and, to a certain 
extent, criminal, jurisdiction, at least against inform- 
ers and traitors* Hence no Jew ventured to bring 


an accusation against one of his race before the au- 
thorities of the country, fearing to expose himself 
to disgrace and contempt from public opinion, which 
would have embittered his life, or even entailed 
death. Almost every community had its college of 
judges, a rabbi with two assessors, before whom 
every complaint was brought, but the final de- 
cision rested with the synod. The synod also con- 
cerned itself about honesty in dealing and conduct, 
and in weight and measure, wherever Jews were 

The study of the Talmud in Poland, established 
by Shachna, Solomon Lurya, and Moses Isserles, 
reached a pitch attained at no previous time, nor in 
any other country. The demand for copies of the 
Talmud was so great that in less than twenty years 
three editions had to be printed, no doubt in thou- 
sands of copies. The study of the Talmud was a 
greater necessity in Poland than in the rest of 
Europe. The rabbis, as has been already said, had 
jurisdiction of their own, and decided according to 
Talmudical and Rabbinical laws. The great num- 
ber of Jews in Poland, and their fondness for litiga- 
tion, gave occasion to intricate law cases. The 
rabbi-judges were obliged to go back to the 
source of law, the Talmud, to . seek points of sup- 
port for such cases. The contending parties being 
themselves well informed and acute, the reasoning 
of the rabbis had to be flawless to escape criticism. 
Hence Rabbinical civil law in Poland met. with extra- 
ordinary cultivation and extension, to adapt it to all 
cases and make it available for the learned liti- 
gants. Thus the ever-growing subtlety of the 
method of Talmud study depended on current con- 
ditions and wants, and on the circumstance that each 
Talmudist wished to surpass all others in ingenuity. 

It would be tedious to enumerate the Rabbinical 
authors of Poland in the first half of the seventeenth 
century. The cultivation of a single faculty, that of 


hair-splitting judgment, at the cost of the rest, nar- 
rowed the imagination, hence not a single literary 
product appeared in Poland deserving the name of 
poetry. All the productions of the Polish school 
bore the Talmudical stamp, as the school regarded 
everything from the Talmudical point of view. The 
disciples of this school looked down almost with 
contempt on Scripture and its simple grandeur, or 
rather it did not exist for them. How, indeed, 
could they have found time to occupy themselves 
with it ? And what could they do with these chil- 
dren's stories, which did not admit the application 
of intellectual subtlety ? They knew something of 
the Bible from the extracts read in the synagogues, 
and those occasionally quoted in the Talmud. The 
faculty for appreciating the sublimity of biblical doc- 
trines and characters, as well as simplicity and ele- 
vation in general, was denied them. A love of 
twisting, distorting, ingenious quibbling, and a fore- 
gone antipathy to what did not lie within their field 
of vision, constituted the character of the Polish 
Jews. Pride in their knowledge of the Talmud and 
a spirit of dogmatism attached even to the best 
rabbis, and undermined their moral sense. The 
Polish Jews of course wece extraordinarily pious, but 
even their piety .rested on sophistry and boastful- 
ness. Each wished to surpass the other in knowl- 
edge of what the Code prescribed for one case or 
another. Thus religion sank, not merely, as among 
Jews of other countries, to a mechanical, unintelli- 
gent ceremonial, but to a subtle art of interpreta- 
tion. To know better was everything to them ; but 
to act according to acknowledged principles of re- 
ligious purity, and exemplify them in a moral life, 
occurred to but few. Integrity and right-minded- 
ness they had lost as completely as simplicity and 
the sense of truth. The vulgar acquired the quib- 
bling method of the schools, and employed it to 
outwit the less cunning. They found pleasure and 


a sort of triumphant delight in deception and cheat- 
ing. Against members of their own race cunning- 
could not well be employed, because they were 
sharp-witted ; but the non-Jewish world with which 
they came into contact experienced to its disadvan- 
tage the superiority of the Talmudical spirit of the 
Polish Jews. The Polish sons of the Talmud paid 
little attention to the fact, that the Talmud and the 
great teachers of Judaism object even more strongly 
to taking advantage of members of a different faith 
than of those of their own race. 

The corruption of the Polish Jews was avenged 
upon them in a terrible way, and the result was, 
that the rest of the Jews in Europe were for a time 
infected with it. With fatal blindness Polish Jews 
offered the nobility and the Jesuits a helping hand 
in oppressing the Zaporogian Cossacks in the 
Ukraine and Little Russia. The magnates wished 
to make profitable serfs of the Cossacks, the Jesuits 
hoped to convert the Greek heretics into Roman 
Catholics, the Jews settled in the district expected 
to enrich themselves and play the lord over these 
pariahs. They advised the possessors of the Cos- 
sack colonies how most completely to humiliate, op- 
press, torment, and ill-use, them ; they usurped the 
office of judges over them, and vexed them in their 
ecclesiastical affairs. No wonder that the enslaved 
Cossacks hated the Jews, with whom their relations 
were closest, almost more than their noble and 
clerical foes. The Jews were not without warning 
what would be their lot, if these embittered enemies 
once got the upper hand. In an insurrection of the 
Zaporogians under their Hetman in about 1638, 
despite its brief duration, they slew 200 Jews, and 
destroyed several synagogues. Nevertheless, Jews 
lent a hand, when in consequence of the insurrec- 
tion the further enslavement of the sufferers was 
determined upon. In the year 1648, fixed by that 
lying book, the Zohar, they expected the coming of 


the Messiah and the time of redemption, when they 
would be in power, and, therefore, they were more 
reckless and careless than was their custom at other 
times. Bloody retribution was not long delayed, 
and struck the innocent with the guilty, perhaps the 
former more severely than the latter. 

It proceeded from a man who understood how to 
make^use of the increasing hatred of the Cossacks 
for his purposes, and who was regarded by his 
countrymen as their ideal. Bogdan Chmielnicki 
(Russian Chmel), born about 1595, died 1657, be- 
fore whom all Poland trembled for several years, 
gave Russia the first opportunity of interfering in 
the Polish republic, and was a frightful scourge ' for 
the Jews. ^ Chmielnicki, brave in war and artful in 
the execution of his plans, impenetrable in his 
schemes, at once cruel and hypocritical, had been 
vexed by Jews, when he held the subordinate posi- 
tion of camp secretary (Pisar) of the Cossacks sub- 
ject to the house of Koniecpolski. A Jew, Zacha- 
riah Sabilenki, had played him a trick, by which he 
was robbed of his wife and property. Another had 
betrayed him when he had come to an understand- 
ing with the Tartars. Besides injuries which his 
race had sustained from Jewish tax farmers in the 
Ukraine, he, therefore, had personal wrongs to 
avenge. His remark to the Cossacks, u The Poles 
have delivered us as slaves to the cursed breed 
of Jews/' was enough to excite them. Vengeance- 
breathing Zaporogians and booty-loving Tartars 
in a short time put the Polish troops to flight 
by successful manoeuvres (May 18, 1648). Potocki, 
the lieutenant-general, and 8,000 Poles, according 
to agreement, were delivered to the Tartars. After 
the victory, the wild troops went eastward from, the 
Dnieper, between Kiev and Pultava, plundering 
and murdering, especially the Jews who had not 
taken flight ; the number of the murdered reached 
several thousand. Hundreds underwent baptism 


in the Greek Church, and pretended to be Chris- 
tians, in order to save themselves. Fortunate were 
those who fell into captivity with the Tartars ; they 
were transported to the Crimea, and ransomed by 
Turkish Jews. Four Jewish communities (Porobischa 
and others) of about 3,000 souls resolved to escape 
massacre by surrendering to the Tartars with all 
their property. They were well treated, and sold 
into Turkey, where they were ransomed in a brother- 
ly manner by those of their own race. The Con- 
stantinople community sent a deputy to Holland to 
collect money from the rich communities for the 
ransom of captives. 

Unfortunately for the Poles and Jews, King 
Vladislav, for whom Chmielnicki had shown some 
respect, was removed by death. During the inter- 
regnum of several months, from May to October, 
1648, the usual Polish dissension occurred, which 
crippled every attempt at resistance. At first 
Chmielnicki drew back, apparently inclined to ne- 
gotiate with the crown, but he gave his creatures 
full power to ravage the Polish provinces. Regular 
troops of murderers, called Haidamaks (the Tartar 
word for partisans), were formed under brutal 
leaders who cared not a straw for human life, and 
who reveled in the death-struggles of their Polish 
and Jewish foes. In the name of religion they were 
urged by the Greek popes to murder Catholics and 
Jews. The commander of each troop had his own 
method of exercising cruelty. One had thongs 
slung round the necks of Catholic and Jewish 
women, by which they were dragged along ; this he 
called " presenting them with a red ribbon." A few 
weeks after the first victory of the Cossacks, a 
troop under another of these chiefs advanced 
against the stronghold of Nemirov, where 6,000 
Jews, inhabitants and fugitives from the neighbor- 
hood, had assembled ; they were in possession of 
the fortress, and closed the gates. But the Cos- 


sacks had an understanding with the Greek Chris- . 
tians in the town, and put on Polish uniforms in 
order to be taken for Poles. The Christian inhabi- 
tants urged the Jews to open the gates for their 
friends. They did so, and were suddenly attacked 
by the Cossacks and the inhabitants of the town, 
and almost entirely cut down amid frightful tortures 
(Siwan 20 June 10, 1648). 

Another Haidamak troop under Kryvonoss at- 
tacked the town of Tulczyn, where about 600 Chris- 
tians snd 2,000 Jews had taken refuge in the for- 
tress. There were brave Jews ' among them, or 
necessity had made them brave, and they would not 
die without resistance. Nobles and Jews swore to 
defend the town and fortress to the last man. As 
the Cossack peasants understood nothing of the art 
of siege, and had repeatedly suffered severely from 
the sorties of Jews and Poles, they resorted to a 
trick. They assured the nobles that their rage was 
directed only against the Jews, their deadly"* foes ; if 
these were delivered up, they would withdraw. The 
infatuated nobles, forgetful of their oath, proposed 
that the Jews should deliver up their arms to them. 
The Jews at first thought of turning on the Poles 
for their treachery, as they exceeded them in num- 
bers. But the rabbi of Tulczyn warned them 
against attacking the Poles, who would inflict bloody 
vengeance, and all Poland would be excited against 
the J ews, who would be exterminated. He implored 
them to sacrifice themselves for their brethren in 
the whole country ; perhaps the Cossacks would 
accept their property as ransom. The Jews con- 
sented, and delivered up their arms, the Poles there- 
upon admitting the troops into the town. After the 
latter had taken everything from the Jews, they set 
before them the choice of death or baptism. Not 
one of them would purchase life at that price ; about 
1,500 were tortured and executed before the eyes 
of the Polish nobles (Tamuz 4 June 24). The 



Cossacks left ten rabbis alive, in order to extort 
large sums from the communities. The Poles were' 
immediately punished for their treachery. Depriv- 
ed of the assistance of the Jews, they were attacked 
by the Cossacks and slain, proving that violators of 
their word cannot reckon on fidelity towards them- 
selves. This sad event had the good effect that the 
Poles always sided with the Jews, and were not op- 
posed to them in the course of the long war. 

At the same time another Haidamak troop, under 
a leader named Hodki, had penetrated into Little 
Russia, and caused dreadful slaughter in the com- 
munities of Homel, Starodub, Czernigov, and other 
places east and north of Kiev. The Jews of Homel 
are said to have suffered martyrdom most firmly, 
on the same day on which the Tulczyn commu- 
nity was annihilated. The leader of the troop had 
all the Jews of Homel, inhabitants as well as fugi- 
tives, stripped outside the town, and surrounded by 
Cossacks, and called upon them to be baptized or 
to expect a most frightful death. They all, men, 
women, and children, to the number of about 1,500, 
preferred death. 

Prince Vishnioviecki, the only heroic figure 
amongst the Poles at that time, a man of penetra- 
tion, intrepid courage, and strategic ability, defended 
the cause of the persecuted Jews with devoted zeal. 
He took the fugitives under the protecting wings of 
his small, but brave force, with which he everywhere 
pursued the Cossack bands to destruction. But, 
because of his limited power, he could accomplish 
nothing of lasting import. Through petty jealousy, 
he was passed over at ,the election of the com- 
mander-in-chief against the Cossack insurrection, 
and instead of him three were chosen, of a character 
calculated to help on Chmielnicki to further victories. 

Annoyed at the pitiful policy of the regent, the 
primate of Gnesen, Vishnioviecki followed his own 
course, but was compelled to retreat before the 



overpowering number of the roving troops and the 
Greek Catholic population in sympathy with them, 
and so destruction was brought on the Jews, who 
had reckoned on his heroic courage. In the fortress 
of Polonnoie, between Zaslav and Zytomir, 10,000 
Jews, partly inhabitants, partly fugitives from the 
neighborhood, are said to have perished at the hand 
of the besieging Haidamaks and the traitorous in- 
habitants (Ab 13 July 22). 

The unfortunate issue of the second war between 
Poles and Cossacks (September, 1648), when the 
Polish army, more through dread of the Tartars 
under Tugai Bey and the incapacity of its generals, 
than through Chmielnicki's bravery, was scattered 
in wild flight, and collected only behind the walls of 
Lemberg, prepared a bloody fate even for Jews who 
thought themselves safe at a distance from tfae field 
of battle. There was no escape from the wild as- 
saults of the Zaporogians, unless they could reach 
the Wallachian borders. The blood of slaughtered 
and maltreated Jews marked the vast tract from the 
southern part of the Ukraine to Lemberg by way of 
Dubno and Brody ; in the town of Bar alone from 
two to three thousand perished. It scarcely need 
be said that the brutal cruelty of the regular Cos- 
sacks, as well as of the wild Haidamaks, made no 
distinction between Rabbanites and Karaites. The 
important community of Lemberg lost many of its 
members through hunger and pestilence, and its 
property besides, which it had to pay to the Cos- 
sacks as ransom. 

In the town of Narol the Zaporogians caused a 
revolting butchery. It is said that in the beginning 
of November 45,000 persons, among them 12,000 
Jews, were slain there with the cruellest tortures. 
Among the corpses remained living women and 
children, who for several days had to feed on human 
flesh. Meanwhile the Haidamaks roamed about in 
Volhynia, Podolia, and West Russia, and slaked 


their revenge in the blood of nobles, Catholics, 
clergy, and Jews, to thousands and tens of thous- 
ands. In Crzemieniec an inhuman monster slew 
hundreds of Jewish children, scornfully examined 
the corpses as Jews do with cattle, and threw them 
to the dogs. In many towns Jews, as well as Cath- 
olics, armed themselves, and drove the bloodthirsty 
Cossacks away. 

The election of a king, which finally was effected 
and, though the Polish state was on the brink of an 
abyss, it took place amidst fights and commotions 
put an end to bloodshed for the moment. Although 
for the most part in a drunken condition, Chmiel- 
nicki retained sobriety enough to dictate, among 
his conditions of peace, that no Catholic church 
should be tolerated, nor any Jew live, in the Cos- 
sack provinces. The commission, unable to accept 
the conditions, departed without settling the busi- 
ness (February 16, 1649). The Jews, who had 
1 reckoned upon a settlement, and returned to their 
home, paid for their confidence with death, for the 
Cossacks surrounded the towns with death-cries. 
Thus, a second time, many Jews and nobles per- 
ished at Ostrog (March 4, 1649). 

The breaking off of the negotiation with Chmiel- 
hicki led to a third encounter. Although the Polish 
army this time appeared better armed on the field of 
battle, it had as little success as before. In the battle 
at Sbaraz it would have been completely destroyed by 
the Zaporogians and Tartars, if the king had not 
wisely come to an understanding with the Tartar 
chief. Thereupon followed the peace (August, 
1649), which confirmed Chmielnicki's programme, 
among other points that concerning the Jews. In 
the chief seats of the Cossacks (z. <?., in the Ukraine, 
West Russia, in the district of Kiev, and a part of 
Podolia) they could neither own or rent landed 
estates, nor live there. 

In consequence of this convention, the Poles and 


Jews were unmolested for about a year and a half, 
although on both sides schemes were harbored to 
break the agreement at the first opportunity. As 
lar as residence was allowed them, the fugitive Jews 
returned to their homes. King John Casimir allowed 
the Jews baptized according to the Greek confession 
openly to profess Judaism. In consequence, the 
baptized Jews fled from the Catholic districts to 
Poland to be free from compulsory Christianity. 
This permission was especially used by Jewish 
women whom the rude Zaporogians had married. 
The Jews brought back into Judaism many hundreds 
of children, who had lost their parents and relatives, 
and had been brought up in Christianity, investigated 
their descent, and hung the indication of it in a small 
roll round their necks, that they might not marry 
blood relations of forbidden degrees. The general 
synod of rabbis and leaders which assembled at 
Lublin in 1650 occupied itself entirely with the 
attempt to heal, at least partially, the wounds of 
Judaism. Many hundreds, even thousands, of Jew- 
ish women did not know whether their husbands 
lay in the grave, or were begging in the East or 
West, in Turkey or Germany, whether they were 
widows or wives, or they found themselves in other 
perplexities created by the Rabbinical law. The 
synod of Lublin is said to have hit upon excellent 
arrangements. Most probably the lenient Lipmann 
Heller, then rabbi of Cracow, strove to effect a 
mild interpretation of the law relating to supposed 
death. At the instigation of the young, genial 
rabbi Sabbata'i Cohen (Shach), the day of the first 
massacre at Nemirov (Siwan 20) was appointed as 
a general fast day for the remnant of the Polish 
community. The hoary Lipmann Heller, at Cracow, 
Sabbata'i Hurwitz, at Posen, and the young Sabbatai 
Cohen drew up penitential prayers (Selichoth), 
mostly selected from older pieces, for this sad memo- 
rial day. 


After a pause of a year and a half, the war 
between Cossacks and Poles broke out in the 
early part of the year 1651, the first victims again 
being Jews, as Chmielnicki and the wild Zaporo- 
gians now fell upon the Polish territory where Jew- 
ish communities had again settled. The massacre, 
however, could not be so extensive as before ; there 
no longer were thousands of Jews to slaughter. 
Moreover the evil days had inspired the Jews with 
courage ; they armed a troop of Jewish soldiers, and 
enlisted them in the king's service. The fortune of 
war turned against the Cossacks, and they were 
obliged to accept the peace dictated by the king 
(November n, 1651). John Casimir and his minis- 
ters did not forget to guard the rights of the Jews 
in the treaty. They were to be permitted to settle 
anywhere in the Ukraine, and to hold property on 

This treaty also was concluded and ratified only 
to be broken. Chmielnicki had accepted it to 
strengthen himself and restore his reputation with 
the Cossacks. As soon as he had gained his first 
object, he began hostilities against the Poles, from 
which Jews always suffered most severely. In two 
years after the first insurrection of the Zaporogians, 
more than 300 communities were completely des- 
troyed by death or flight, and the end of 
their suffering had not yet arrived. The Polish 
troops could not withstand the violent attacks 
or skillful policy of Chmielnicki. When he could no 
longer hope for help from the Tartars, he combined 
with the Russians, and incited them to a war against 
unhappy Poland, divided against itself. In conse- 
quence of the Russian war in the early part of 1654 
and 1655, those communities suffered which had 
been spared by the Cossack swarms, t. ., the western 
districts and Lithuania. The community of Wilna, 
one of the largest, was completely depopulated (July, 
l6 55) by slaughter on 'the part of the Russians and 



by migration. As if fate were then determining 
upon the partition of Poland, a new enemy was 
added to the Cossacks and Russians in Charles X 
of Sweden, who used Poland as the first available 
pretext to slake his thirst for war. Through the 
Swedish war, the communities of Great and & Little 
Poland, from Posen to Cracow, were reduced to 
want and despair. The Jews of Poland had to drink 
the cup of poison to the dregs. The Polish general, 
Czarmcki, who hated the Jews, ill-used those spared 
by Cossacks, Russians, and the wild Swedes of the 
Ihirty Years' War, under the pretense that they 
had a traitorous understanding with the Swedes. The 
Poles also behaved barbarously to the Jews, destroyed 
the synagogues, and tore up the holy scriptures. 
All 1 oland was like a bloody field of battle, on which 
Cossacks, Russians, Prussians, Swedes, and the 
troops of Prince Ragoczi of Transylvania wrestled ; 
the Jews were ill-used or slain by all. Only the 
Great Elector of Brandenburg behaved leniently to-' 
wards them. The number of Jewish families said to 
have perished in ten years of this war (600,000) is 
certainly exaggerated, but the slaughtered Jews of 
Poland may well be rated at a quarter of a million. 
With the decline of Poland as a power of the first 
rank, the importance of Polish Judaism diminished. 
The remnant were impoverished, depressed, and 
could not recover their former position. Their 
need was so great, that those who drifted to the 
neighborhood of Prussia hired themselves to Chris- 
tians as day laborers for field work. 

As at the time of the expulsion of the Jews from 
Spain and Portugal every place was filled with 
fugitive Sephardic Jews, so during the Cossack- 
Polish war fugitive Polish Jews, wretched in appear- 
ance, with hollow eyes, who had escaped the sword, 
the flames, hunger, and pestilence; or who, 
dragged by the Tartars into captivity, had 
been ransomed by their brethren, were seek- 


ing shelter everywhere. Westwards, by way of 
Dantzic and through the Vistula district, Jewish- 
Polish fugitives wandered to Amsterdam, and were 
forwarded thence to Fraiikfort-on-the-Main and 
other Rhenish cities. Three thousand Lithuanian 
Jews came to Texel in the Netherlands, and were hos- 
pitably received. Southwards many fled to Mora- 
via, Bohemia, Austria, and Hungary, and wander- 
ed from those places to Italy. The prisoners 
in the armies of the Tartars came to the Turk- 
ish provinces, and some of them drifted to 
Barbary. Everywhere they were received by their 
brethren with great cordiality and love, cared for, 
clothed, and supported. The Italian Jews ransomed 
and supported them at great sacrifice. Thus, the 
community of Leghorn at this time formed a resolu- 
tion to collect and spend a quarter of their income 
for the liberation and maintenance of the unfortunate 
Polish Jews. The German and Austrian communi- 
ties, also, although they had suffered under the 
calamities of the Thirty Years' War, exercised that 
brotherly feeling which they rarely professed with 
their lips, but cherished the more deeply in their 

The number and misery of those escaped from 
Poland were so great, that the German communities 
and probably others were obliged to devote the 
money intended for Jerusalem to the maintenance 
of Polish Jews. The Jews of Jerusalem dependent 
on alms, who were drained by the pasha and his 
subordinates, felt the want of their regular support 
from Europe. They soon fell into such distress, 
that of the 700 widows and a smaller number of 
men living there nearly 400 are said to have died 
of hunger. 

The Cossack persecution of the Jews, in a sense, 
remodeled Judaism. It became Polonized, so to 
speak. The Polish-Rabbinical method of study had 
long dominated the Talmudical schools of Germany 


and Italy through the abundant literature by Polish 
authors. Now, through the fugitives, most of whom 
were Talmudical scholars, it became authoritative. 
Rabbinical appointments were mostly conferred on 
Polish Talmudists, as in Moravia, Amsterdam, 
Flirth, Frankfort, and Metz. On account of their 
> superiority in their department, these Polish Tal- 
mudists were as proud as the Spanish and Portu- 
guese fugitives had been, and looked down with 
contempt on the rabbis who spoke German, Portu- 
guese, and Italian. Far from giving up their own 
method in a foreign country, they demanded that 
all the world should be regulated by them, and they 
gained their point. People joked about the "Pol- 
acks," but nevertheless became subordinate to 
them. Whoever wished to acquire thorough Tal- 
mudic and Rabbinical knowledge was obliged to sit 
at the feet of Polish rabbis ; every father of a family 
who wished to educate his children in the Talmud 
sought a Polish rabbi for them. These Polish rabbis 
gradually forced their sophistical piety upon the 
German, and partly on the Portuguese, and Italian, 
communities. Through their influence, scientific 
knowledge and the study of the Bible declined still 
more than previously. In the century of Descartes 
and Spinoza, when the three Christian nations, the 
French, English, and Dutch, gave the death-blow to 
the Middle Ages, Jewish-Polish emigrants, baited 
by Chmielnicki's bands, brought a new middle age 
over European Judaism, which maintained itself in 
full vigor for more than a century, to some extent 
lasting to our time. 



Obstacles to the Resettlement of Jews in England Manasseh ben 
Israel His Character and Attainments Christian Students of 1 
Jewish Literature: Scaliger, the Buxtorfs, Selden, and Vossius 
Women devote themselves to HebrewThe Fifth-Monarchy 
Men : Expectation of the Millennium Enthusiastic Friends of 
the Jews The Puritans Cromwell and Holmes Nicholas' Pro- 
tection of the Jews "The Hope of Israel" Fresh Victims of 
the Inquisition Manasseh ben Israel's Negotiations with the 
English Parliament He journeys to London, and is graciously 
received by Cromwell A Council sits at Whitehall to decide the 
Question of the Re-admission of the Jews Prynne's anti-Jewish 
Work Controversial Pamphlets Manasseh's " Vindication " 
The Re-admission of the Jews connived at, 

16551657 c. E. 

AT the very time when the Jews of Poland were 
trodden down, slaughtered, or driven through 
Europe like terrified wild beasts, a land of freedom 
was opened, from which the Jews had been banished 
for more than three centuries and a half. England, 
which the wise queen Elizabeth and the brave Crom- 
well had raised to be the first power in Europe, a 
position very different from that of crumbling 
Poland, again admitted Jews, not indeed through 
the great portal, yet through the back door. But 
this admission was so bruited abroad, that it was 
like a triumph for Judaism. The Jews of Amster- 
dam and Hamburg looked with longing to this 
island, to which they were so near, with whose mer- 
chants, shipowners, and scholars they were in con- 
nection, and which promised wide scope for the 
exercise of their varied abilities. But settlement 
there seemed beset with insuperable obstacles. The 
English episcopal church, which exercised sway over 



Low Condition of the jews at the End of the Seventeenth Century- 
Representatives of Culture : David Nieto, Jehuda Brieli The 
Kabbala Jewish Chroniclers Lopez Laguna translates the 
Psalms into Spanish De Barrios The Race after Wealth 
General Poverty of the Jews Revival of Sabbatianism Daniel 
Israel Bonafoux, Cardoso, Mordecai of Eisenstadt, Jacob Querido, 
and Berachya Sabbatianism in Poland Abraham Cuenqui 
Judah Chassid Chayim Malach Solomon Ayllon Nehemiah 
Chayon David Oppenheim's Famous Library Chacham Zevi 
The Controversy on Chayon's Heretical Works in Amsterdam. 

17001725 C. E. 

AT the time when the eyes of the civilized world 
were directed upon the Jewish race with a certain 
degree of sympathy and admiration, and when, at 
the dawn of enlightenment in the so-called philo- 
sophical century, ecclesiastical prejudices were be- 
ginning to disappear, the members of this race were 
making a by no means favorable impression upon 
those with whom they came into contact. Weighed 
in the balance, they were found wanting even by 
their well-wishers. The Jews were at no time in so 
pitiful a plight as at the end of the seventeenth and 
beginning of the eighteenth century. Several cir- 
cumstances had contributed to render them utterly 
demoralized and despised. The former teachers 
of Europe, through the sad course of centuries, had 
become childish, or worse, dotards. Every public 
or historical act of the Jews bears this character of 
imbecility, if not contemptibility . There was not a 
single- cheering event, hardly a person commanding 
respect who could worthily represent Judaism, and 
bring it into estimation. The strong-minded, manly 
Orobio de Castro (died in 1687), the former victim 


the world around, hence are confiding and enter- 
prising. His heart was deeper than his mind. His 
power rested in his easy eloquence,- his facility in 
explaining and working out ideas which lay within 
his narrow field of vision, and which he had acquired 
rather than produced. Manasseh ben Israel had 
complete grasp of Jewish literature, and knew the 
Christian theology of his time, and what was to be 
said on each point, i. e., what had been said by his 
predecessors. On the other hand, he had only a 
superficial knowledge of those branches of learning 
which require keenness of intellect, such as philo- 
sophy and the Talmud. His strength was in one 
respect his weakness. His facility in speaking and 
writing encouraged a verbose style and excessive 
productiveness. He left more than 400 sermons in 
Portuguese, and a mass of writings that fill a 
catalogue, but discuss their subjects only super- 
ficially. Manasseh's contemporaries looked upon 
his writings with different eyes. The learning- 
amassed therein from all literatures and languages, 
and the smoothness of form riveted their attention, 
and excited their admiration. Among Jews he was 
extraordinarily celebrated ; whoever could produce 
Latin, Portuguese, or Spanish verse, made known 
his praise. But even Christian scholars of his time 
over-estimated him. 

In Holland, which, by the concurrence of many 
circumstances, and especially through the powerful 
impulse of Joseph Scaliger, the prince of philologists, 
had become in a sense the school of Europe, the 
foundation was laid in the seventeenth century for 
the wonderful learning contained in voluminous 
folios. At no time had there been so many philolo- 
gists with early-matured learning, iron memory, and 
wonderful devotion to the science of language, as in 
the first half of the seventeenth century, which 
seems to have been specially appointed to revive 
what had so long been neglected. All the literary 


treasures of antiquity were collected and utilized ; 
statesmen vied with professional scholars. In this 
gigantic collection there was little critical search for 
truth ;^ the chief consideration was the number of 
scientific facts gathered. The ambition of many was 
spurred on to understand the three favored lan- 
guages of antiquity Greek, Latin, and Hebrew 
and _ their literatures. Hebrew, the language of 
religion, enjoyed special preference, and whoever 
understood it as well as the other two tongues was 
sure of distinction. Joseph Scaliger, the oracle of 
Dutch and Protestant theology, had given to Rabbin- 
ical literature, so-called, a place in the republic of 
letters beside the Hebrew language, and even the 
Talmud he treated with a certain amount of respect. 
His Dutch, French, and English disciples followed 
his example, and devoted themselves with zeal to 
this branch of knowledge, formerly regarded with 
contempt or even aversion. 

John Buxtorf, senior (born 1564, died 1639), of 
Basle, may be said to have been master of Hebrew 
and Rabbinical literature, and he rendered them 
accessible to Christian circles. He carried on a 
lively correspondence in Hebrew with Jewish 
scholars in Amsterdam, Germany, and Constanti- 
nople. Even ladies devoted themselves to Hebrew 
language and literature. That prodigy, Anna Maria 
sSchurmann,of Utrecht,who knew almost all European 
languages and their literature, corresponded in He- 
brew with scholars, and also with an English lady, 
Dorothea Moore, and quoted Rashi and Ibn Ezra 
with a scholar's accuracy. The eccentric queen 
Christina of Sweden, the learned daughter of Gus- 
tavus Adolphus, understood Hebrew. Statesmen, 
such as Hugo Grotius, and the Englishman John 
Selden, seriously and deeply engaged in its pursuit 
for their theological or historical studies. 

But Christian vScholars, with all their zeal, had not 
yet acquired independence in Rabbinical literature ; 


without a Jewish guide, they could not move, or felt 
unsafe. To Christian inquirers, therefore, Manas- 
seh ben Israel's treatises, which presented many 
Rabbinical passages and new points of view, were 
highly welcome. Much of the Talmudic literature 
became accessible through his clear exposition. 
Hence, Dutch scholars sought out Manasseh, 
courted his friendship, fairly hung upon his lips, and 
gradually discarded prejudice against Jews, which 
even the most liberal-minded men in the most tol- 
erant country of Europe had not laid aside. Ma- 
nasseh was joined particularly by those eager 
inquirers who were persecuted or declared heretics 
by the ruling church. The learned Vossius family, 
even John Gerard Vossius, senior, although filled 
with strong hatred against Jews, was affable^ to 
Manasseh. His son, Dionysius Vossius, a prodigy 
of learning, snatched a way by death in his eighteenth 
year, on his death-bed translated into Latin Manas- 
seh's " Reconciler" (Conciliador) shortly after its 
appearance. Isaac Vossius, the youngest son, who 
filled an honorable office under the queen of Sweden, 
recommended Manasseh ben Israel to her. By this 
family he was made acquainted with the learned 
statesman Hugo Grotius, who also received in- 
struction from him. The chief of the Arminians, 
Simon Episcopius, sought intercourse with Manas- 
seh, as did Caspar Barleeus, who as a Socinian, 
t. *., a denier of the Trinity, was avoided by orthodox 
Christians. He attached himself to Manasseh, and 
sang his praise in Latin verses, on which account he 
was attacked yet more violently, because he had put 
the Jewish faith on an equality with the Christian. 
The learned Jesuit Peter Daniel Huet also culti- 
vated his friendship. Gradually the Chacham and 
preacher of Amsterdam acquired such a reputation 
among Christians, that every scholar traveling 
through that city sought him out as an extraordi- 
nary personage. Foreigners exchanged letters 


with him, and obtained from him explanations on 
difficult points. Manasseh had an interview with 
Queen Christina of Sweden, which stimulated her 
kindness for the Jews, and her liking for Jewish 
literature. So highly did many Christians rate 
Manasseh ben Israel, that they could not suppress 
the wish to see so learned and excellent a rabbi 
won over to Christianity. 

Most of all Christian visionaries, who dreamt of 
the coming of the Fifth Monarchy, the reign of the 
saints (in the language of Daniel), crowded round 
Manasseh ben Israel. The Thirty Years' War 
which had delivered property and life over to wild 
soldiers, the tyrannical oppression of believers 
struggling for inward freedom and morality in 
England by the bishops and the secular govern- 
ment, in France by the despotic Richelieu awak- 
ened in visionaries the idea that the Messianic 
millennium, announced in the book of Daniel and 
the Apocalypse, was near, and that their sufferings 
were only the forerunners of the time of grace. 
These fantastic visionaries showed themselves 
favorable to the Jews; they wished this great 
change to be effected with the participation of those 
to whom the announcement had first been made. 
They conceded that the Jews must first take pos- 
session of the Holy Land, which could not easily be 
accomplished, even by a miracle. For, the lost 
Ten Tribes must first be found, and gathered to- 
gether, if the prophetic words were not to fall to 
the ground. The tribes assembled to take posses- 
sion of the Holy Land must have their Messiah, a 
shoot out of the stem of Jesse. But what would 
become of Jesus, the Christ, i. e., Messiah, in whom 
Jews could not be made to believe? Some of the 
Fifth Monarchy visionaries conceded to Jews a 
Messiah of their own, in the expectation that the 
struggle for precedence between the Jewish and the 
Christian saviour would decide itself. 


Such apocalyptic dreams struck a responsive, 
chord in Manasseh ben Israel's heart. He also ex- 
pected, not the reign of the saints, but, according* to 
Kabbalistic reckoning, the speedy advent of the 
Messianic time. The Zohar, the book revered by 
him as divine, announced in unambiguous terms, 
that Israel's time of grace would begin with the year 
5408 of the world (1648). Manasseh in his inner- 
most being was a mystic, his classical and literary 
education being only external varnish, not diminish- 
ing his belief in miracles. Hence he was pleased 
with the letter of a Christian visionary of Dantzic, 
expressing belief in the restoration of the glory of 
the Jews. John Mochinger, of the old Tyrolcse 
nobility, who had fallen into the whirlpool of mysti- 
cism, wrote to Manasseh ben Israel in the midst of 
an eulogium on his learning : " Know and be con- 
vinced that I duly honor your doctrines, and to- 
gether with some of my brethren in the faith, ear- 
nestly desire that Israel may be enlightened with 
the true light, and enjoy its ancient renown and 
happiness." At a later period another German 
mystic of Dantzic established relations with the 
Kabbalistic Chacham of Amsterdam viz., Abra- 
ham von Frankenberg, a nobleman, and a disciple 
of Jacob Bohme. He openly said : "The true light 
will come from the Jews ; their time is not far off. 
From day to day news will be heard from different 
places of wonderful things come to pass in their 
favor, and all the islands shall rejoice with them." 
In daily intercourse with Manasseh were two Chris- 
tian friends, Henry Jesse and Peter Serrarius, who 
were enthusiasts in the cause of Israel's restoration. 
In France, in the service of the great Conde, there 
was a peculiar visionary, Isaac La PeyrSre of Bor- 
deaux, a Huguenot, perhaps of Jewish-Marrano 
blood. He had the strange notion that there were 
men before Adam (pre-Adamites), from whom all 
men except the Jews were descended In a book 


on the subject, which brought him to the dungeon 
of the Inquisition, he attached great importance to 
the Jews. In another work on " The Return of the 
Jews," he maintained that the Jews ought to be re- 
called from their dispersion in all parts of the world, 
to effect a speedy return to the Holy Land. The 
king of France, the eldest son of the Church, has 
the duty to bring about this return of the eldest son 
of God. He, too, entered into communication with 

The greatest number of ardent admirers " God's 
people" found in England, precisely among those 
who had powerful influence in the council and the 
camp. At the time when the Germans were fight- 
ing each other on account of difference of creed, 
invoking the interference of foreigners, and impair- 
ing their own freedom and power, England was 
gaining what could never be taken away, religious 
and, at the same time, political freedom, and this 
made it a most powerful and prosperous country. 
In Germany the religious parties, Catholics-, 'Luth- 
erans, and Calvinists, in selfish blindness demanded 
religious freedom each for itself alone, reserving 
oppression and persecution for the others. These 
internecine quarrels of the Germans were utilized 
by the princes to confirm their own despotic power. 
In England, the same selfishness prevailed among 
the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Catholics, but 
a fourth party arose whose motto was religions 
freedom for all. The senseless despotism of 
Charles I and the narrow-giindedness of the Long 
Parliament had played into the hands of this intelli- 
gent and powerful party. England, like Germany, 
resembled a great blood-stained battle-field, but it 
had produced men who knew what they wanted, 
who staked their lives for it, and effected the rejuven- 
escence of the nation. Oliver Cromwell was at once 
the head which devised, and the arm which executed 
ideas. By the sword he and his army ob- 


tained religious freedom, not only for themselves, 
but also for others. He and his officers were not 
revengeful freebooters or blood-thirsty soldiers, but 
high-minded, inspired warriors of God, who waged 
war against wickedness and falseness, and hoped 
for, and undertook to establish a -moral system of 
government, the kingdom of God. Like the Macca- 
bees of old, the Puritan warriors fought " sword in 
hand, and praise of God in their mouth." Cromwell 
and his soldiers read the Bible as often as they 
fought. But not out of the New Testament could 
the Roundheads derive inspiration and warlike cour- 
age. The Christian Bible, with its monkish figures, 
its exorcists, its praying brethren, and pietistic saints, 
supplied no models for warriors contending with a 
faithless king, a false aristocracy, and unholy priests. 
Only the great heroes of the Old Testament, with 
fear of God in their hearts and the sword in their 
hands, at once religious and national champions, 
could serve as models for the Puritans : the Judges, 
freeing the oppressed people from the yoke of for- 
eign domination ; Saul,* David, and Joab, routing the 
foes of their country ; and Jehu, making an end of 
an idolatrous and blasphemous royal house these 
were favorite characters with Puritan warriors. In 
every verse of the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, 
and Kings, they saw their own condition reflected ; 
every psalm seemed composed for them, to teach 
them that, though surrounded on every side by un- 
godly foes, they need not fear while they trusted in 
God. Oliver Cromwell compared himself to the 
judge Gideon, who first obeyed the voice of God 
hesitatingly, but afterwards courageously scattered 
the attacking heathens ; or to Judas Maccabaeus, 
who out of a handful of martyrs formed a host of 
victorious warriors. 

To bury oneself in the history, prophecy, and 
poetry of the Old Testament, to revere them 
as divine inspiration, to live in them with every 


emotion, yet not to consider the people who had 
originated all this glory and greatness as pre- 
ferred and chosen, was impossible. Among the 
Puritans, therefore, were many earnest admirers of 
41 God's people," and Cromwell was one of them. 
It seemed a marvel that the people, or a remnant of 
the people, whom God had distinguished by great 
favor and stern discipline, should still exist. A 
desire^ was excited in the hearts of the Puritans to 
see this living wonder, the Jewish people, with their 
own eyes, to bring Jews to England, and, by making 
them part of the theocratic community about to be 
established, stamp it with the seal of completion. 
The sentiments of the Puritans towards the Jews 
were expressed in Oliver Cromwell's observation, 
" Great is my sympathy with this poor people, whom 
God chose, and to whom He gave His law ; it re- 
jects Jesus, because it does not recognize him as the 
Messiah." Cromwell dreamt of a reconciliation of 
the Old and the New Testament, of an intimate 
connection between the Jewish people of God and 
the English Puritan theocracy. But other Puritans 
were so absorbed in the Old Testament that the 
New Testament was of no importance. Especially 
the visionaries in Cromwell's army and among the 
members of Parliament, who were hoping for the 
Fifth Monarchy, or the reign of the saints, assigned to 
the Jewish people a glorious position in the expected 
millennium. A Puritan preacher, Nathaniel Holmes 
(Holrnesius), wished, according to the letter of many 
prophetic verses, to become the servant of Israel, 
and serve him on bended knees. The more the 
tension in England increased through the imprison- 
ment of the king, the dissensions between the Pres- 
byterian Long Parliament and the Puritan army, the 
civil war, the execution of King Charles, and the 
establishment of a republic in England, the more 
public life and religious thought assumed Jewish 
coloring. The only thing wanting to make one think 


himself in Judaea was for the orators in Parliament 
to speak Hebrew. One author proposed the 
seventh day as the day of rest, and in a work showed 
the holiness of this day, and the duty of the English 
people to honor it. This was in the beginning of 
1649, Parliament, it is true, condemned this work 
to be burnt as heretical, scandalous, and profane, 
and sentenced the printer and author to punishment. 
But the Israelite spirit among the Puritans, especially 
among the Levelers, or ultra-republicans, was not 
suppressed by these means. Many wished the 

government to declare the Torah to be the code for 

These proceedings in the British islands, which 
promised the exaltation of Israel at no distant period, 
were followed by Manasseh with beating heart. 
Did these voices not announce the coming of the 
Messianic kingdom? He hoped so, and put forth 
feverish activity to help to bring about the desired 
time. He entertained a visionary train of thought. 
The Messiah could not appear till the punishment of 
Israel, to be scattered from one end of the earth to 
the other, had been fulfilled. There were no Jews 
then living in England. Exertions must be made 
to obtain permission for Jews to dwell in England, 
that this hindrance to the advent of the Messiah 
might be removed. Manasseh therefore put himself 
into communication with some important persons, 
who assured him that " the minds of men were 
favorable to the Jews, and that they would be accep- 
table and welcome to Englishmen." What especi- 
ally justified his hopes was the "Apology" by 
Edward Nicholas, former secretary to Parliament, 
"for the honorable nation of the Jews/' In this 
work, which the author dedicated to the Long 
Parliament, the Jews were treated, as the chosen 
people of God, with a tenderness to which they were 
not accustomed. Hence the author felt it necessary 
to affirm at the end, that he wrote it, not at the 


instigation^ of Jews, but out of love to God and his 
country. The opinion of the apologist was, that the 
great sufferings brought upon England by the reli- 
gious and civil war were a just punishment for 
English persecution of the saints and favorites of 
God, z. *., the Jews, and an urgent admonition to 
atone for this great sin by admitting them and show- 
ing them brotherly treatment. The author proved 
the ^reference and selection of Israel by many 
biblical quotations. He referred to a preacher who 
had said in Parliament in connection with the verse : 
" Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no 
harm," that the weal or woe of the world depended 
upon^the^goodor bad treatment of God's people. 
God in His secret counsel had sustained this people 
to the present clay, and a glorious future was reserved 
for them. Hence it was the duty of Englishmen to 
endeavor to comfort them, if possible give them 
satisfaction for their innocent blood shed in this 
kingdom, and enter into friendly intercourse with 
them. ^This work also defends the Jews against the 
accusation of having crucified Jesus. The death of 
Jesus took place at the instigation of the Synhedrion, 
not of the people. In most impressive terms it 
urges the English to comfort the afflicted and un- 
happy Jews. The pope and his adherents, he said, 
would be enraged at the kind treatment of the 
Jews, for .they still inflicted cruelty and humiliation 
upon the people of God, the popes compelling the 
Jews to wear opprobrious badges, and Catholics 
avoiding all contact with them, because they ab- 
horred idols and heathen worship. 

This work, which, more than friendly, absolutely 
glorified the Jews, excited the greatest attention in 
England and Holland. Manasseh ben Israel was 
delighted with it, thinking that he was near his ob- 
ject, especially as his friend Holmes at once com- 
municated with him on the subject, saying that he 
himself was about to prepare a work on the millen- 


nitim, in which he would emphasize the importance 
of the Jews in the molding of the future. Manasseh 
ben Israel immediately set to work to do his share 
towards the realization of his object. He, however, 
as well as the Christian mystics in England, had 
one anxiety; what had become of the lost Ten 
Tribes banished by the Assyrian king Shalmanassar? 
A restoration of the Jewish kingdom without these 
Ten Tribes seemed impossible, nay, their discovery 
was the guarantee of the truth of the prophetic promi- 
ses. The union of Judah and Israel which some of the 
prophets had impressively announced would remain 
unfulfilled if the Ten Tribes had ceased to exist. 
Manasseh, therefore, laid great stress upon being 
able to prove their existence somewhere. Fortu- 
nately he was in a position to specify the situation 
of the Ten Tribes. Some years before, a Jewish 
traveler, named Montezinos, had affirmed on oath 
that he had seen native Jews of the tribe of Reuben, 
in South America, and had held communication 
with them. The circumstantiality of his tale excited 
curiosity, and inclined his contemporaries to belief. 
Antonio de Montezinos was a Marrano, whom busi- 
ness or love of travel had led to America. There 
he had stumbled upon a Mestizo (Indian), who had 
excited in him a suspicion that members of his race 
were living in America, persecuted and oppressed 
by the Indians, as the Indians had been by the 
Spaniards, and later experiences confirmed the 

Antonio de Montezinos, or Aaron Levi, had 
brought the surprising news to Amsterdam, and 
had related it under oath to a number of persons, 
among them Manasseh ben Israel (about 1644). 
Afterwards he went to Brazil, and there died. On 
his deathbed he repeatedly asserted the truth of 
the existence of some Israelite tribes in America. 
Manasseh ben Israel was firmly convinced by the 
statement of this man, and made it the foundation 


of a work, entitled u Israel's Hope," composed to 
pave the way for the Messianic time. The Ten 
Tribes, according to his assumption, had been dis- 
persed to Tartary and China, and some might have 
gone thence to the American continent. Some indi- 
cations and certain manners and customs of the 
Indians, resembling those of the Jews, seemed to 
him to favor this idea. The prophetic announce- 
ment of the perpetuity of the Israelite people had 
accordingly been confirmed ; moreover there were 
signs that the tribes were ready to come forth from 
their hiding-places and unite with the others. The 
time of redemption, which, it was true, could not be 
foretold, and in the calculation of which many had 
erred, appeared at last to- be approaching. The 
prophets' threats of punishment to the Jews had 
been fulfilled in a terrible manner ; why should not 
their hope-awakening promises be verified ? What 
unspeakable cruelty the monster of the Inquisition 
had inflicted, and still continued to inflict, on the 
poor innocents of the Jewish race, on adults and 
children of every age and either sex ! For what 
reason? Because they would not depart from the 
Law of Moses, revealed to them amidst so many 
miracles. For it numberless victims had perished 
wherever the tyrannical rule of the Inquisition was 
exercised. And martyrs continued to show incredi- 
ble firmness, permitting themselves to be burnt 
alive to honor the name of God. 

Manasseh enumerated all the autos-da-fe of Mar- 
ranos and other Jewish martyrs which had taken 
place in his time. 

Great excitement was caused among Dutch Por- 
tuguese Jews by the burning of a young Marrano, 
twenty-five years old, well read in Latin and Greek 
literature. Isaac de Castro-Tartas, born at Tartas, 
a small town in Gascony, had come with his parents 
to Amsterdam. Glowing with zeal and a desire to 
bring back to Judaism those Marranos who con- 


tinued Christians, he prepared to travel to Brazil. 
In vain his parents and friends warned him against 
this mad step. In Bahia he was arrested by the 
Portuguese, recognized as a Jew, sent to Lisbon, 
and handed over to the Inquisition. This body had 
no formal right over Isaac de Castro, for when 
arrested he was a Dutch citizen. The tribunal in 
vain tried to induce him to abjure Judaism. Young 
De Castro-Tartas was determined manfully to en- 
dure a martyr's death in honor of his faith. His 
death was attended with the eclat he had longed 
for. In Lisbon the funeral pile was kindled for him 
and several others, on December 22d, 1647. He 
cried out of the flames, " Hear, O Israel, Gocl is 
one/' in so impressive a tone that the witnesses of 
the dreadful spectacle were greatly moved. For 
several days nothing else was talked of in the 
capital but the dreadful voice of the martyr Isaac de 
Castro-Tartas and the "Shema," uttered with his 
last breath. People spoke of it shudcleringly. The 
Inquisition was obliged to forbid the uttering of the 
word "Shema'* with a threat of heavy punishment. 
It is said, too, that at that time it was determined to 
burn no more Jewish heretics alive in Lisbon. 

The Amsterdam community, was stunned by the 
news of successive executions of youthful sufferers. 
De Castro-Tartas had parents, relatives, and friends 
in Amsterdam, and was beloved on account of his 
knowledge and character. The rabbi, Saul Mor- 
teira, delivered a memorial address on his death. 
Poets deplored and honored him in Hebrew and 
Spanish verses, and, horrified by the new atrocities 
of the Inquisition against Jews, Manasseh ben Israel 
wrote " Israel's Hope." Even the reader of to-day 
can feel grief trembling in every word. Indeed, if 
martyrs could prove the truth and tenability of the 
cause for which they bleed, Judaism needs no further 
proof; for no people and no religion on earth have 
produced such numerous and firm martyrs. Ma- 



nasseh used this proof to draw the conclusion that, 
as promised sufferings had been inflicted, so the 
promised redemption and regeneration of God's 
people would be fulfilled. He sent this Latin 
treatise on the existence of the Ten Tribes and their 
hopes to a prominent and learned personage in 
England, to be read before Parliament, which was 
under Cromwell's influence, and before the Council 
of State. In an accompanying letter Manasseh ex- 
plained to Parliament his favorite idea, that the 
return ^ of the Jews to their native land the time 
for which was so near must be preceded by their 
complete dispersion. The dispersion, according to 
the words of Scripture, was to be from one end of 
the earth to the other, naturally including the island 
of England, in the extreme north of the inhabited 
world. But for more than 300 years no Jews had 
lived in England ; therefore, he added the request 
that the Council and Parliament grant Jews permis- 
sion to settle in England, to have the free exercise 
of their religion, and to build synagogues there 
(1650). Manasseh made no secret of his Messianic 
hopes, because he could and did reckon upon the 
fact that the saints or Puritans themselves wished 
for the " assembling of God's people " in their an- 
cestral home, and were inclined to help and promote 
it. He also intimated in his letter, that he was re- 
solved to go to England, to arrange for the settle- 
ment of the Jews. 

Manasseh ben Israel had not reckoned amiss. 
His request and dedication were favorably received 
by Parliament. Lord Middlesex, probably the me- 
diator, sent him a letter of thanks with the super- 
scription, " To my dear brother, the Hebrew phil- 
osopher, Manasseh ben Israel." A passport to En- 
gland was also sent to him. The English ambassa- 
dor in Holland, Lord Oliver St. John, a relative of 
Cromwell, told him that he wished to go to the 
Amsterdam synagogue, and gave him to understand, 


probably according to Cromwell's instructions, that 
England was inclined to gratify the long-cherished 
wish of the Jews, Manasseh took care that he be 
received in the house of prayer with music and 
hymns (about August, 1651). However, the goal 
to which he seemed so near was removed by politi- 
cal complications. England and Holland entered 
into a fierce war, which broke off the connection be- 
tween Amsterdam and London. Manasseh' s rela- 
tions to his elder colleague, Saul Morteira (1652), 
and the president, Joseph da Costa it is not known 
on what account became strained, and in an angry 
mood he formed the resolution to leave Amster- 
dam. The directors of the community succeeded 
in establishing a tolerable understanding between 
the two chachams, but Manasseh had neither the 
cheerfulness required nor a favorable opportunity 
to resume his adventurous scheme. 

But when Oliver Cromwell, by the illegal but 
necessary dissolution of the Long Parliament, as- 
sumed the chief power in April, 1653, and showed 
an inclination to conclude peace* with the States 
General, Manasseh again took up his project. 
Cromwell had called together a new parliament, the 
so-called Short, or Barebones, Parliament, which 
was composed wholly of saints, i. e., Puritan preach- 
ers, officers with a biblical bias, and millennium vision- 
aries* The partiality of Cromwell's officers for the 
old Jewish system is shown by the serious proposi- 
tion that the Council of State should consist of 
seventy members, after the number of the Jewish 
synhedrion. In Parliament sat General Harrison, a 
Baptist, who, with his party, wished to see the 
Mosaic law introduced into England. When Parlia- 
ment met (July 5, 1653), Manasseh hastened to re- 
peat his request, that Jews be granted permission 
to reside in England. The question of the Jews 
was immediately put on the programme of business. 
Parliament sent Manasseh a safe conduct to Lon- 



don, that he might conduct the business in person. 
As the war between England and Holland still con- 
tinued, his relatives and friends urged him not to 
expose himself to the danger of a daily change of 
affairs, and he again put off his voyage to a more 
favorable time. The Short Parliament was soon 
dissolved (December 12, 1653), and Cromwell ob- 
tained kingly power under the title of Protector of 
the Realm. When he concluded peace with Hol- 
land (April, 1654), Manasseh thought the time well 
suited for effecting his wishes for the redemption of 
Israel. He was encouraged by the fact that three 
admirals of the English fleet had drawn up a peti- 
tion in October, 1654, to admit Jews into England. 
Manasseh presented his petition for their admission 
to Cromwell's second, still shorter Parliament, and, 
probably at his instigation, David Abrabanel Dor- 
mido, one of the leading men at Amsterdam, at the 
same time presented one to the same effect, which 
Cromwell urgently recommended to the Council 
for speedy decision (November 3, 1654). 

Manasseh reveled in intoxicating dreams of the 
approaching glorious time for Israel. He regarded 
himself as the instrument of Providence to bring 
about its fulfillment. In these dreams he was up- 
held and confirmed by Christian mystics, who were 
eagerly awaiting the millennium. The Dutchman, 
Henry Jesse, had shortly before published a work, 
" On the Speedy Glory of Judah and Israel/' in the 
Dutch language. The Bohemian physician, mystic, 
and alchemist, Paul Felgenhauer, went beyond the 
bounds of reason. Disgusted with the formal creed 
of the Evangelical Church, and the idolatrous ten- 
dency of Catholicism, he wrote during the Thirty 
Years' War against the corruption of the Church 
and the Protestant clergy, and wished for a spiritual, 
mystical religion. By a peculiar calculation, Felgen- 
hauer was led to believe that the year six thousand 
and the advent of the Messiah connected with it 


were not far off. Persecuted in Germany by Cath- 
olics and Protestants, he sought an asylum in Am- 
sterdam, and there formed the acquaintance of 
Manasseh ben Israel. Between these men and a 
third visionary, Peter Serrarius, the speedy coming 
of the Messianic time was often the subject of con- 
versation. Felgenhauer then composed an original 
work (December, 1654) entitled "Good News of 
the Messiah for Israel! The redemption of Israel 
from all his sufferings, his deliverance from captiv- 
ity, and the glorious advent of the Messiah are nigh 
for the comfort of Israel. Taken from the Holy 
Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, by a 
Christian who is expecting him with the Jews." 
Felgenhauer places the Jewish people very high, as 
the seed of Abraham, and considers true believers 
of all nations the spiritual seed of Abraham. Hence 
Jews and Christians should love, not despise, one 
another. They should unite in God. This union 
is near at hand. The bloody wars of nation against 
nation by sea and land in the whole world, which 
had not happened before to anything like the same 
extent, are signs thereof. As further signs he ac- 
counted the comets which appeared in 1618, i64cS, 
and 1652, and the furious Polish war kindled by tlac 
Cossacks. Verses from the Bible, especially from 
Daniel and the Apocalypse, with daring interpreta- 
tions, served him as proofs. Felgenhauer denied 
an earthly Messiah, nor did he allow the claim of 
Jesus to the title. 

As this half-insane work was dedicated to Manas- 
seh, he was obliged to answer it, which he did with 
great prudence (February i, 1655), gladly welcom- 
ing the pages favorable to Jews, and passing over 
the rest in silence. The good news concerning the 
near future was the more welcome to his heart, he 
said, as he himself, in spite of the afflictions of many 
centuries, did not cease ardently to hope for better 



" How gladly would I believe you, that the time is near when God, 
who has so long been angry with us, will again comfort His peoole 
and deliver it from more than Babylonian captivity, and more than 
Egyptian bondage ! Your sign of the commencement of the Mes- 
sianic age, the announcement of the exaltation of Israel throughout 
the whole world, appears to me not only probable, but plain and 
clear. A not inconsiderable number of these announcements (on the 
Christian side) for the consolation of Zion have been sent to me from 
Frankenberg- and Mochinger, from France and Hungary. And from 
England alone how many voices ! They are like that small cloud in 
the time of the prophet Elijah, which suddenly extended so that it 
covered the whole of the heavens." 

^^ ben Israel had the courage to express 
without ambiguity Jewish expectations in opposition 
to the opinions held by Christian enthusiasts. They, 
for the most part, imagined the fifth monarchy, 
which they alleged was about to commence, as the 
millennium,when Jesus would again appear and hand 
over the sovereign power to the saints. The Jews 
would have a share in it ; they would assemble from 
the ends of the earth, return to their ancestral home, 
and again build Jerusalem and the Temple. But 
this would be only an intermediate state, the means 
to enable the whole Twelve Tribes to acknowledge 
Jesus as Messiah, so that there be but one flock 
under one shepherd. Against this Manasseh ben 
Israel composed a treatise, ended April 25, 1655, 
on the fifth kingdom of the prophecy of Daniel, 
interpreting it to mean the independence of 
Israel. In this work, called " The Glorious Stone, 
or the Image of Nebuchadnezzar/' and dedicated to 
Isaac Vossius, then in the service of the queen of 
Sweden, he put forth all his learning to show that 
the visions of the u four beasts," or great kingdoms, 
had been verified in the successive sway of the 
Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and 
therefore the coming of the fifth kingdom also was 
certain. This was shown in Daniel plainly enough 
to be the kingdom of Israel, the people of God. In 
this Messianic kingdom all nations of the earth will 
have part, and they will be treated with kindness, 
but the authority will ever rest with Israel. Manas- 


seh disfigured this simple thought by Kabbalistic 
triviality and sophistry. It is singular that not only 
did a learned Christian accept the dedication of this 
essentially Jewish work, but the celebrated painter 
Rembrandt supplied four artistic engravings repre- 
senting Nebuchadnezzar's, or Manasseh's vision. 

Manasseh had received a friendly invitation from 
the second Parliament assembled by Cromwell ; but 
as it had meanwhile been dissolved, he could not 
begin his journey until invited by the Protector 
himself. He seems to have sent on in advance his 
son, Samuel ben Israel, who was presented by the 
University of Oxford, in consideration of his knowl- 
edge and natural gifts, with the degree of doctor of 
philosophy and medicine, and according to custom, 
received the gold ring, the biretta, and the kiss of 
peace. It was no insignificant circumstance that 
this honor should be conferred upon a Jew by a 
university strictly Christian in its conduct. Crom- 
well's will appears to have been decisive in the 
matter. He sent an invitation to Manasseh, but the 
journey was delayed till autumn. Not till the end 
of the Tishri festivals (October 25-31, 1655) did 
Manasseh undertake the important voyage to Lon- 
don, in his view, of the utmost consequence to the 
world. He was received in a friendly manner by 
Cromwell, and had a residence granted him. 
Among his companions was Jacob Sasportas, a 
learned man, accustomed to intercourse with per- 
sons of high rank, who had been rabbi in African 
cities. Other Jews accompanied him in the hope 
that the admission of Jews would meet with no diffi- 
culty. Some secret Jews from Spain and Portugal 
were already domiciled in London, among them 
being the rich and respected Fernandez Carvajal. 
But the matter did not admit of such speedy settle- 
ment. At an audience, Manasseh delivered to the 
Protector a carefully composed petition, or address* 
He had obtained the authorization of the Jews of 


the different countries of Europe to act as their 
representative, so that the admission of Jews into 
England might be urged not in his own name alone, 
but in that of the whole Jewish nation. In his peti- 
tion he skillfully developed the argument, by means 
of passages from the Bible and the Talmud, that 
power and authority are conferred by God according- 
to his will ; that God rewards and punishes even the 
rulers of the earth, and that this had been verified in 
Jewish history; that great monarchs who had trou- 
bled Israel had met with an unhappy end, as 
Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, 
Pompey, and others. On the other hand, benefac- 
tors of the Jewish nation had enjoyed happiness 
even here below, so that the word of God to 
Abraham had been literally fulfilled : 

" ' I will bless them that bless thee,and curse them that curse thee/ 
Hence I, one of the least among the Hebrews, since by experience I 
have found, that through God's great bounty towards us, many con- 
siderable and eminent persons both of piety and power are moved 
with sincere and inward pity and compassion towards us, and do 
comfort us concerning the approaching Deliverance of Israel, could 
not but for myself, and in the behalf of my countrymen, make this my 
humble Address to your Highness, and beseech you for God's sake 
that ye would, according to that piety and power wherein you are 
eminent beyond others, vouchsafe to grant that the great and glorious 
name of the Lord our God may be extolled, and solemnly worshiped 
and praised by us through all the bounds of this Commonwealth ; and 
to grant us place in your country, that we may have our Synagogues, 
and free exercise of our religion. Pagans have of old .... granted 
free liberty even to apostate Jews : . . . . how much more then may 
we, that are not Apostate or runagate Jews, hope it from your High- 
ness and your Christian Council, since you have so great knowledge 
of, and adore the same one only God of Israel, together with us. ... 
For our people did .... presage that .... the ancient hatred 
towards them would also be changed into goodwill: that those 
rigorous laws , . , , against so innocent a people would happily be 

At the same time Manasseh ben Israel circulated 
through the press a " Declaration " which served to 
explain the reasons for admitting Jews, and to meet 
objections and allay prejudices against their admis- 
sion. All his reasons can be reduced to two one 
mystical and one of trade policy. The mystical 


reason has been repeatedly explained. His opinion 
coincided with that of many Christians, that the 
return of the Israelites to their home was near at 
hand. According to his view the general disper- 
sion of the Jews must precede this event : 

" Now we know how our nation is spread all about, and has its seat 
and dwelling in the most flourishing countries of the world, as well 
in America as in the other three parts thereof, except only in this 
considerable and mighty island. And therefore, before the Messiah 
come .... first we must have our seat here likewise." 

The other reason was put in this form : that through 
the Jews the trade of England would greatly 
increase in exports and imports from all parts of 
the world. He developed this point of the advan- 
tage which the Jews might bestow at great length, 
showing that on account of their fidelity and attach- 
ment to the countries hospitable and friendly to 
them they deserved to be treated with consideration. 
Besides, they ought to be esteemed, on account of 
their ancient nobility and purity of blood, among a 
people which attached importance to such distinc- 

Manasseh ben Israel considered the commerce 
to which Jews were for the most part devoted from 
a higher point of view. He had in mind the whole- 
sale trade of the Portuguese Jews of Holland in 
the coin of various nations (exchange business), in 
diamonds, cochineal, indigo, wine, and oil. Their 
money transactions were not based on usury, on 
which the Jews of Germany and Poland relied. 
The Amsterdam Jews deposited their capital in 
banks, and satisfied themselves with five per cent 
interest. The capital of the Portuguese Jews in 
Holland and Italy was very considerable, because 
Marranos in Spain and Portugal invested their 
money with them, to evade the avarice of the Inqui- 
sition. Hence Manasseh laid great weight on the 
advantages which England might expect from his 
enterprising countrymen. He thought that trading, 


the chief occupation, and, to a certain extent, the 
natural inclination, of the Jews of all countries since 
their dispersion, was the work of Providence, a mark 
oi divine favor towards them, that by accumulated 
treasures they might find grace in the eyes of rulers 
and nations. They were forced to occupy them- 
selves with commerce, because, owing to the insecu- 
rity of their existence, they could not possess landed 
estates. Accordingly, they were obliged to pursue 
trade till their return to their land, for then " there 
shall be no more any trader in the house of the 
Lord/' as a prophet declares. 

Manasseh ben Israel then took a survey over all 
the countries where Jews, in his time, or shortly 
before, by means of trade, had attained to import- 
ance, and enumerated the persons who had risen to 
high positions by their services to states or rulers. 
However, much that he adduced, when closely con- 
sidered, is not very brilliant, with the exception of 
the esteemed and secure position which the Jews 
occupied in Holland. Then he quoted examples of 
the fidelity and devotedness of Jews in ancient and 
modern times towards their protectors. He forcibly 
refuted the calumny that the Jews had been banished 
from Spain and Portugal for treachery and faithless- 
ness. It was easy for him to show from Christian 
authors that the expulsion of the Jews, and their 
cruel treatment by Portugal, were at once criminal 
and foolish, and most emphatically condemned by 
wise rulers. He, took occasion to defend his breth- 
ren against three other charges : usury, child mur- 
der, and proselytism. To wipe off the stain of 
usury, he made use of the justification employed by 
Simone Luzzatto, a contemporary Jewish Italian 
author, that usury was objectionable not in itself, but 
in its excess. Of great weight was the fact which 
he adduced, that the Portuguese Jews, for whom he 
was pleading, abhorred usury as much as many 
Christians, and that their large capital had not been 


obtained from it. Manasseh could repudiate with 
more vehemence the charge of murdering Christian 
children. Christians made the accusation,he thought, 
pretty much from the motives that influenced the 
negroes of Guinea and Brazil, who tormented those 
just escaped from shipwreck, or visited by mis- 
fortune in general, by assuming that such persons 
were accursed of God. 

"We live not amongst the Black-moors and wild-men, but amongst 
the white and civilized people of the world, yet we find this an ordi- 
nary course, that men are very prone to hate and despise him that 
hath ill fortune ; and on the other side, to make much of those whom 
fortune doth favor.." 

Manasseh reminded the Christians that there had 
been a time when they, too, had been charged by 
heathens with being murderers of children, sorcerers, 
and conjurers, and. had been punished by heathen 
emperors and officials. He was able to refer to a 
case of his own time, that of Isaac Jeshunm, of 
Ragusa, a Jew repeatedly tortured for child murder, 
whose innocence had come to light, and filled the 
judges with remorse. Manasseh denied the accu- 
sation of the conversion of Christians to Judaism, 
and referred to the injunction of the Jewish law to 
dissuade rather than attract proselytes. 

"Now, because I believe, that with a good conscience I have dis- 
charged our nation of the Jews of those three slanders. ... I may 
from these two qualities, of Profitableness and Fidelity, conclude, 
that such a nation ought to be well entertained, and also beloved and 
protected generally of all. The more, considering they are called in 

the Sacred Scriptures the sons of God I could add a 

third (point), viz,, of the Nobility of the Jews, but because that point 
is enough known amongst all Christians, as lately it has been shown 
. ... by that worthy Christian minister, Mr. Henry Jessey . , - 
and by Mr. Eclw. Nicholas, Gentleman. Therefore I will here forbear 
and rest on the saying of Solomon .... * Let another man's mouth 
praise thee, and not thine own.' " 

Cromwell was decidedly inclined to the admission 
of the Jews. He may have had in view the prob- 
ability that the extensive trade and capital of the 
Spanish and Portuguese Jews, those professing Juda- 

CH. IT. 


ism openly as well as secretly, might be brought to 
England, which at that time could not yet compete 
with Holland. He was also animated by the great 
idea of the unconditional toleration of all religions, 
and ^ even thought of granting religious freedom to 
the intensely hated, feared, hence persecuted Cath- 
olics. Therefore, he acceded to the wish of the 
Jews to open an asylum to them in England. But 
he was most influenced by the religious desire to 
win over the Jews to Christianity by friendly treat- 
ment. He thought that Christianity, as preached 
in Kngland by the Independents, without idolatry 
and superstition, would captivate the Jews, hitherto 
deterred from Christianity. 

Cromwell and Manasseh ben Israel agreed in an 
unexpressed, visionary, Messianic reason for the 
admission of Jews into England. The Kabbalistic 
rabbi thought that in consequence of the settlement 
of Jews in the British island, the Messianic redemp- 
tion would commence, and the Puritan Protector 
believed that Jews in great numbers would accept 
Christianity, and then would come the time of one 
shepherd and one flock. To dispose the people 
favorably towards the Jews, Cromwell employed two 
most zealous Independents, his secretary, the clergy- 
man Hugh Peters, and Harry Marten, the fiery 
member of the Council, to labor at the task. 

At last the time came to consider the question of 
the admission of Jews seriously. They had been 
banished in the year 1290 in pursuance of a decree 
enacting that they should never return, and it was 
questionable whether the decree was not still in 
force. Therefore, Cromwell assembled a commis- 
sion at Whitehall (December 4, 1655), to discuss 
every aspect of the matter. The commission was 
composed of Lord Chief Justice Glynn, Lord Chief 
Baron Steel, and seven citizens, including the Lord 
Mayor, the two sheriffs of London, an alderman, and 
the recorder of the city, and fourteen eminent cler- 


gymen of different towns. Cromwell mentioned two 
subjects for discussion : whether it was lawful to 
admit Jews into England, and, in case it was not 
opposed to the law, under what conditions the 
admission should take place. Manasseh had formu- 
lated his proposal under seven heads: that they 
should be admitted and protected against violence ; 
that they should be granted synagogues, the free 
exercise of religion, and places of burial ; that they 
should enjoy freedom of trade ; and that their dis- 
putes should be settled by their own rabbis and 
directors ; and that all former laws hostile to 
Jews should be repealed for their greater security. 
On admission, every Jew should take the oath of 
fidelity to the realm. 

There was great excitement in London during the 
discussion on the admission of the Jews, and pop- 
ular feeling was much divided. Blind hatred against 
the crucifiers of the Son of God, and blind love for 
the people of God ; fear of the competition of Jews 
in trade, and hope of gaining the precedence from 
the Dutch and Spaniards by their means, prejudiced 
ideas that they crucified Christian children, clipped 
coin,or wished to make all the English people Jews 
these conflicting feelings disturbed the judgment 
for and against them. Cromweirs followers, and 
the Republicans in general, were for their admis- 
sion ; Royalists and Papists, secretly or openly his 
enemies, were opposed to the proposal. The people 
crowded to the hall where the Jewish question was 
publicly discussed. At the very beginning the legal 
representatives declared that no ancient law ex- 
cluded the Jews from England, for their banishment 
had been enacted by the king, without the consent 
of Parliament. The city representatives remained 
silent ; the most violent were the clergy, who could 
not rid themselves of their hatred against Jews, 
derived from the gospels and their theological liter- 
ature, Cromwell, who most earnestly wished to see 


them admitted, therefore added three clergymen, 
among them Hugh Peters, from whom he expected 
a vote favorable to the Jews. The question was not 
brought to a decision in three sittings. Cromwell 
therefore ordered a final discussion (December 18, 
1655), at which he presided. The majority of the 
clergy on this day, too, were against the admission 
of Jews, even the minority favoring it only with due 
precautions. ^ Cromwell, dissatisfied with the course 
of the discussion, first had the theological objections 
refuted by Manasseh ben Israel, then expressed him- 
self with much warmth, and reprimanded the clergy. 
He said that he had hoped to receive enlighten- 
ment for his conscience; instead, they had made 
the question more obscure. The main strength of 
his arguments was : The pure (Puritan) gospel must 
be preached to the Jews, to win them to the church. 
" But can we preach to them, if we will not tolerate 
them among us ? " Cromwell thereupon closed the 
discussion, and resolved to decide the matter accord- 
ing to his own judgment. 

He had not only the opposition of the fanatical 
clergy to contend against, but also that of the multi- 
tude, who shared their prejudiced feeling. The 
enemies of the Jews made every effort to win over 
the people against their admission. They spread 
the report that the Jews intended to buy the library 
of the University of Oxford, and, if possible, turn St. 
Paul's into a synagogue. They sought to bring 
Cromwell's friendship for the Jews under suspicion, 
and circulated the report that an embassy had come 
to England from Asia and Prague to find out 
whether Cromwell was not the expected Messiah of 
the Jews. A clerical pamphleteer, named William 
Prynne, stirred up a most fanatical excitement 
against the Jews. He composed a venomous work, 
" A Short Demurrer," in which he raked up all false 
accusations against them of counterfeit coining, and 
the crucifixion of Christian children, and briefly 


summarized the anti-Jewish decrees of the thirteenth 
century, so as to make the name of Jew hated. 
From other quarters, also, various publications 
appeared against them. John Hoornbeek, a Dutch- 
man, composed a book on the conversion of the 
Jews, in which he pretended to be their friend, but 
actually sought to asperse them. John Dury, an 
Englishman residing at the time at Cassel, was also 
resolved to make his voice heard about the Jews ; 
he weighed arguments for and against their admis- 
sion, and at last inclined to the view that it was a 
serious matter to permit Jews to enter England. 
His work was printed and distributed. Probably at 
Cromwell's suggestion, Thomas Collier wrote a 
refutation of Prynne's charges, dedicating it to the 
Protector. He even justified the crucifixion of Jesus 
by the Jews, and concluded his work with a passage 
in the taste of that time : 

" Oh, let us respect them; let us wait for that glorious day which 
will make them the head of the nations. Oh, the time is at hand 
when every one shall think himself happy that can but lay hold on 
the skirt of a Jew. Our salvation came from them! Our Jesus was 
of them! We are gotten into their promises and privileges! The 
natural branches were cut off, that we might be grafted on ! Oh, let 
us not be high-minded, but fear. Let us not, for God's sake, be un- 
merciful to them! No 1 let it be enough if we have all their [spirit- 
ual] riches." 

While the admission of Jews met with so many 
difficulties in England, the Dutch Government was 
by no means pleased with Manasseh ben Israel's 
efforts to bring it to pass, fearing, doubtless, that the 
Amsterdam Jews would remove to England, with all 
their capital. Manasseh was obliged to pacify the 
Dutch ambassador in an interview, and to assure 
him that his exertions concerned not Dutch Jews, 
but the Marranos, watched with Argus eyes in 
Spain and Portugal, for whom he wished to provide 
an asylum. Manasseh waited six months in Lon- 
don to obtain from Cromwell a favorable decision, 
but without success. The Protector found no leis- 


ure to attend to the Jewish question, his energies 
were devoted to obtaining the funds necessary for 
the government and foreign wars, refused by one 
Parliament after another, and to frustrating the 
royalist _ conspiracy against his life. Manasseh's 
companions, who had given up all hopes of success, 
left London; others who, having fled from the 
Pyrenean peninsula, were on their way thither, 
turned back, and settled in Italy or Geneva. 

But the friends of the Jews were unwearied, and 
hoped to produce a change of mind in the people. 
One of " the saints " published a small work (April, 
1656), in which he briefly summarized the proceed- 
ings at the discussion on the admission of Jews, and 
then added : 

"What shall be the issue of this, the most high God knoweth; 
Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel still remains in London, desiring a favor- 
able answer to his proposals; and not receiving it, he hath desired, that 
if they may not be granted, he may have a favorable dismission, and 
return home. But other great affairs being now in hand, and this 
being business of very great concernment, no absolute answer is yet 
returned to him," 

To elicit a thorough refutation of all the charges 
advanced by the enemies of the Jews and the oppo- 
nents of toleration, a person of high rank, in close 
relation with the government, induced Manasseh 
ben Israel to publish a brief but comprehensive 
work, in defense of the Jews. In the form of a let- 
ter he stated all the grounds of accusation. These 
included the current slanders : the use of the blood 
of Christians at the Passover, curses upon Chris- 
tians and blasphemy against the God of the Chris- 
tians in Jewish prayers, and the idolatrous reverence 
alleged to be shown the Torah-scrolls. The de- 
fense of the Jews, which Manasseh ben Israel com- 
posed in reply (April 10), and which was soon after- 
wards circulated through the press, is perhaps the 
best work from his pen. It is written with deep 
feeling, and is, therefore, convincing ; learned matter 
is not wanting, but the learning is subordinate to 


the main object. In the composition of this defense 
Manasseh must have had peculiar feelings. He 
had come to England the interpreter or represen- 
tative of the people of God, expecting speedily to 
conquer the sympathy of Christians, and pave the 
way for the lordship of Israel over the world, 
and now his people was placed at the bar, and h"e 
had to defend it. Hence the tone of this work is 
not aggressive and triumphant, but plaintive. He 
affirmed that nothing had ever produced a deeper 
impression on his mind than the letter addressed 
to him with the list of anti-Jewish charges. 

" It reflects upon the credit of a nation, which amongst so many 
calumnies, so manifest (and therefore shameful), I dare to pronounce 
innocent. And in the first place, I cannot but weep bitterly, and 
with much anguish of soul lament, that strange and horrid accusation 
of some Christians against the dispersed and afflicted Jews that dwell 
among them, when they say (what I tremble to write) that the Jews 
are wont to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, fermenting it 
with the blood of some Christians whom they have for that purpose 

To this false charge so often made, among others 
by Prynne, the greatest part of his defense is 
devoted, and it is indeed striking. He traced the 
accusation to false witnesses or the confession of 
accused persons under torture. The innocence of 
the accused was often brought to light, but too late, 
when they had been executed. Manasseh confirmed 
this by an entertaining story. The physician of a Por- 
tuguese count had been charged by the Inquisition as 
a Judaizing Christian. In vain the count pledged 
himself for his orthodoxy, he was nevertheless tor- 
tured, and himself confessed that he was a Judaizing 
sinner. Subsequently the count, pretending serious 
illness, sent for the inquisitor, and in his house, with 
doors closed, he commanded him in a threatening 
tone to confess in writing that he was a Jew. . The 
inquisitor refused ; then a servant brought in a red- 
hot helmet to put upon his head. Thereupon the 
inquisitor confessed everything demanded by the 


count, who took this opportunity to reproach him 
with his cruelty and inhumanity. 

Manasseh ben Israel besides affirmed with a sol- 
emn oath the absolute falsehood of the oft-repeated 
charges as to the use of Christian blood. 

After meeting the other accusations against the 
Jews, he concludes his defense with a fine prayer and 
an address to England : 

" And to the highly honored nation of England I make my most 
humble request, that they would read over my arguments impartially, 
without prejudice and devoid of all passion, effectually recommending 
me to their grace and favor, and earnestly beseeching God that He 
would be pleased to hasten the time promised by Zephaniah, wherein 
we shall all serve him with one consent, after the same manner, and 
shall be all of the same judgment ; that as his name is one, so his fear 
may be also one, and that we may all see the goodness of the Lord 
(blessed for ever !) and the consolations of Zion." 

This last work of Manasseh ben Israel produced 
in England the favorable effect desired. Though 
Cromwell, amidst the increasing difficulties of his 
government, could not fully carry out the admission 
of the Jews, he made a beginning towards it. He 
dismissed Manasseh with honorable distinctions, and 
granted him a yearly allowance of one hundred 
pounds (February 20, 1657) out of the public treas- 
ury. The Jews were not admitted in triumph 
through the great portal, but they were let in by 
Cromwell through a back door, yet they established 
themselves firmly. This was in consequence of an 
indictment brought against an immigrant Marrano 
merchant, Antonio Robles, that he, a Portuguese 
Papist, had illegally engaged in business pursuits in 
England, but he was acquitted by the Protector on 
the ground that he was. not a Catholic, but a Jew. 
Thus the residence of such Jews was suffered ; they 
could therefore drop the mask of Catholicism. Two 
respected Marranos, Simon de Caceres and Fer- 
nandez (Isaac) Carvajal, in fact received Cromwell's 
permission to open a special burial-ground for the 
Sephardic Jews settled in London (1657). In con- 


sequence of this permission it was no longer neces- 
sary to make a show of attending church or of 
having their newly-born children baptized. But they 
occupied an anomalous position. Being strangers, 
and on account of their insignificant numbers, they 
lived not exactly on sufferance, but were ignored. 
Thus Manasseh ben Israel's endeavors were not 
entirely vain. He did not draw the pension 
awarded him, nor did he live to witness the coming 
up of the seed scattered by him, for on the way 
home he died, at Middelburg, probably broken down 
by his exertions and the disappointment of his hopes, 
even before he reached his family (November, 1657). 
His body was afterwards brought to Amsterdam, 
and an honorable epitaph was put over his grave. 
But his zealous activity, outcome though it was of 
Messianic delusions, bore fruit, because it was sin- 
cere. Before he had been dead ten years, Jews 
were gradually admitted into England by the mon- 
archy which succeeded the republic. A community 
was assembled which soon became organized, a 
room was fitted up in King street as a synagogue, 
and Jacob Sasportas, the wanderer from Africa, 
Manasseh ben Israel's companion, was chosen rabbi. 
The branch community of London took as its model 
that of Amsterdam. From this second stronghold, 
occupied by Portuguese Jews, afterwards proceeded 
the agitation for popular freedom and the liberation 
of the Jews. 



Condition of Judaism Complete Triumph of the Kabbala The Dis- 
ciples of Isaac Lurya Vital Calabrese, Abraham de Herrera, 
and Isaiah Hurwitz Immanuel Aboab Uriel da Costa ; his 
Career and Death Leo Modena; his Character and his Writing's 
Deborah Ascarelli and Sarah Copia Sullam, Jewish Author- 
essesLeo Modena's veiled ScepticismThe Travels and Influ- 
ence of Joseph Delmedigo The Writings of Simone Luzzatto. 

I62O l66o C. E. 

JUDAISM, then in its three thousandth year, was like 
a rich kernel, covered and concealed by crusts de- 
posited one upon, another, and by extraneous mat- 
ter, so that only very few could recognize its true 
character. The Sinaitic and prophetic kernel of 
thought had long been covered over with the three- 
fold layer of Sopheric, Mishnaitic, and Talmudical 
explanations and restrictions. Over these, in the 
course of centuries, new layers had been formed by 
the Gaonic, Spanish, French, German, and Polish 
schools, and these layers and strata were enclosed 
by an unsightly growth of fungus forms, the mouldy 
coating of the Kabbala, which, settling in the gaps 
and chinks, grew and ramified. All these new forms 
had already the authority of age in their favor, and 
were considered inviolable. People no longer asked 
what was taught in the fundamental Sinaitic law, or 
what was considered of importance by the prophets ; 
they scarcely regarded what the Talmud decided to 
be essential or non-essential ; the Rabbinical writers 
alone, Joseph Karo and Moses Isserles being the 
highest authorities, decided what was Judaism. Be- 
sides, there were superadditions from the Polish 
schools, and lastly the Kabbalistic dreams of Isaac 


Lurya. The parasitic Kabbala choked the whole 
religious life of the Jews. Almost all rabbis and 
leaders of Jewish communities, whether in small 
Polish towns or in cultivated Amsterdam, the Cha- 
cham Isaac Aboab de Fonseca, as well as Isaiah 
Hurwitz, the emigrant to Palestine, were ensnared 
by the Kabbala, Gaining influence in the fourteenth 
century, contemporaneously with the ban against 
science, it had made such giant strides since Isaac 
Lurya's death, or rather committed such gigantic 
ravages, that nothing could keep it in check. 
Lurya's wild notions of the origin, transmigration, 
and union of souls, of redemption, and wonder- 
working, after his death attracted more and more 
adherents into his magic circle, clouding their minds 
and narrowing their sympathies. 

Lurya's disciples, the lion's whelps, as they boast- 
fully called themselves, made systematic efforts to ef- 
fect conversions, circulated most absurd stories about 
Lurya's miracles, gave out that their master's spirit 
had come upon them,and shrouded themselves in mys- 
tery, in order to attract greater attention. Chayim 
Vital Calabrese had been most prominent, and with 
his juggleries deluded the credulous in Palestine and 
the neighboring countries (1572-1620) till his death. 
He claimed to be the Ephraimitic Messiah, and 
therefore assumed a sort of authority over his fellow- 
disciples. In Jerusalem, where he resided for sev- 
eral years, Vital preached, and had visions, but did 
not meet with the recognition he expected. Only 
women said that they had seen a pillar of fire or the 
prophet Elijah hovering over Vital while he preached. 

In Safet, Vital, imitating his master, visited graves > 
carried on exorcism of spirits, and other mystic 
follies, but not living on good terms with his col- 
leagues, especially his brother-in-law, Gedaliah 
Levi, of whom he was jealous, he settled at 
Damascus (1594-1620), continued his mystifications, 
affected great personal importance, as if the salva- 


tion of the world rested on his shoulders, and 
preached the speedy appearance of the Messiah, 
and his mission to hasten it. Jesus and Mahom- 
et, repenting their errors, would lay their crowns at 
his feet. Ridiculed on account of his wild proceed- 
ings, and declared to be a false prophet, he took 
vengeance on his detractors by gross slanders. 

In old age he continued his mystical nonsense, 
saying that he had been forbidden to reveal his vis- 
ions, but this prohibition having been withdrawn, he 
could now announce that certain souls living in 
human bodies would be united to him of course, in 
a subordinate capacity to bring about the redemp- 
tion, one of the souls destined for this mission being 
in a foreign country. This was a bait to attract 
Kabbala enthusiasts, and thus secure a following. 
And enthusiasts hastened from Italy, Germany, 
Poland, and other countries to play a Messianic part. 
The manuscript notes left by Lurya gave rise to 
further frauds. Vital asserted that he alone was in 
possession of them, and obtained a decree from the 
college at Safet, declaring that no one was author- 
ized to publish information about Lurya's Kabbala 
elsewhere. Kabbalists became the more anxious 
to possess this incomparable treasure. Chayim 
Vital's brother, Moses Vital, took advantage of their 
eagerness to make a good business of it. During 
an illness of his brother's, he caused the writings 
found at his house to be copied, and sold them at a 
high price. After his recovery, Chayim Vital 
affirmed that the writings stolen were not the gen- 
uine ones ; these he would never publish. He is 
said in his will to have directed them to be laid in his 
grave. Nevertheless, after his death, his son, Sam- 
uel Vital, sold Luryan Kabbalistic revelations, and 
published his father's dreams and visions in a 
separate work. An immigrant Marrano from Portu- 
gal, a devotee of the Kabbala, asserted that he had 
found the best collection in Vital's grave. 


After this time a regular search was made after 
the Kabbala of Lurya and Vital. Whoever was in 
possession of copies, and offered them for sale or 
publication, found ready purchasers. Messengers 
were employed to give this fraud currency in the 
Jewish communities. Israel Saruk, or Sarug, a Ger- 
man, one of Lurya's disciples, introduced the Luryan 
Kabbala into Italy, gained many adherents for it, 
and much money for himself. His account of his 
master's miracles offended the taste of very few. 
From Italy he betook himself to Holland, and there 
gained a disciple who knew how to give the Kabba- 
listic frenzy a philosophic complexion. Alonzo, or 
Abraham, de Herrera (died 1639), a descendant of 
the Great Captain, the viceroy of Naples, was intro- 
duced by Saruk into the mysteries of the Luryan 
Kabbala. Having lived a Christian during the 
greatest part of his life, he was more familiar with 
non-Jewish philosophy than with Jewish literature ; 
therefore it was easy to deceive him into taking 
dross for gold. He felt clearly that Lurya's Kab- 
bala betrayed resemblances to Neoplatonic philos- 
ophy, but this disturbed De Herrera little, or rather, 
it confirmed the Kabbalistic teaching, and he en- 
deavored to explain one by the other. Finding it 
impossible to reconcile the two systems, he, too, fell 
into idle talk and rambling expressions. Abraham 
de Herrera, who, as has been stated, became a Jew 
at a ripe age, could not learn Hebrew, and hence 
had his two Kabbalistic works, the " House of God" 
and the " Gate of Heaven," translated by the Am- 
sterdam preacher Isaac Aboab from Spanish- into 
Hebrew, and in his will set apart a considerable 
sum of money for their publication. The author 
and translator doubtless thought that they had ren- 
dered an inexpressibly great service to Judaism. 
But by the meretricious splendor which these works 
imparted to the Kabbala, they blinded the superficial 
minds of the average Portuguese Jews, who, in spite 


of their knowledge of classical literature and Euro- 
pean culture, abandoned themselves to the delu- 
sions of the Kabbala. Manasseh ben Israel and all 
his older and younger contemporaries in Holland 
paid homage to mysticism, and had no doubt of its 
truth and divinity. 

In Germany and Poland two men, half Polish and 
half German, brought Lurya's Kabbala into high esti- 
mation : Isaiah Hurwitz (Sheloh), called the Holy, 
and Naphtali Frankfurter, to whom we may perhaps 
add the credulous Solomon, or Shlomel, of Moravia, 
who glorified the silliest stories of wonders per- 
formed by Isaac Lurya, Vital, and their circle, in let- 
ters sent to Germany and Poland, which were eag- 
erly read and circulated. 

However, in this thick unsightly crust over- 
spreading the Kabbala, some rifts and chinks 
appeared, which indicated disintegration. Here 
and there were found unprejudiced men, who 
felt and expressed doubts as to the truth of 
Judaism in its later Rabbinical and Kabbalistic 
form. Many went further, and included Tal- 
mudical interpretation. Others advanced from 
doubt to certainty, and proceeded more or less 
openly against the existing form of Judaism. Such 
inquirers, of course, were not to be met with among 
German and Polish, nor among Asiatic Jews ; these 
considered every letter in the Talmud and Zohar, 
every law in the code (Shulchan Aruch) as the in- 
violable word of God. The doubters were only in 
Italian and Portuguese communities, which had rela- 
tions with educated circles. A pious adherent of 
tradition, Immanuel Aboab, of Portuguese origin, 
who had long resided in Italy, felt called upon to 
compose a defense of the Judaism of the Talmud 
and the rabbis (Nomologia, composed 1616-1625), 
showing an unbroken chain of exponents of true 
tradition down to his own time, a well-meant, but 
not very convincing work. The confused Kabbalist 


Naphtali Frankfurter complained of his comtempo- 
raries who ridiculed the Talmud. Three or four 
gifted investigators more or less frankly revealed 
the scepticism working beneath the surface. These 
three men, differing in character, mode of life, and 
position, were Uriel Acosta, Judah Leo Modena, and 
Joseph Delmedigo ; we may perhaps add Simone 
Luzzatto to the list. They endeavored to lay bare 
the disadvantages and weaknesses of existing Juda- 
ism ; but not one of them was able to suggest or 
apply a remedy. 

Uriel da Costa (Gabriel Acosta, born about 1590, 
died April, 1640) was an original character, whose 
inward unrest and external course of life could not 
but bring him into conflict with Judaism. He was 
descended from a Portuguese Marrano family at 
Oporto, whose members had been made sincere 
believers in Christ by the terrors of the Inquisition. 
His father, at least, who belonged to the higher 
classes in Portugal, had become a strict Catholic. 
Young Gabriel learnt ecclesiasticism and the accom- 
plishments of a cavalier from his father, was, like 
him, a good rider, and entered upon a course of 
education, limited, indeed, but sufficient for that time. 
He adopted the only career open to young Portu- 
guese of the upper middle class, by means of which 
the gifted could rise to distinction, and to a certain 
equality with the nobility. He was prepared for the 
law, a study which might pave the way to the second 
rank, the clerical. In his youth the Jesuits had 
already obtained powerful influence over men's 
minds, and their methods of exciting the imagination 
and subduing the intellect by depicting everlasting 
damnation and the punishments of hell had proved 
effectual. Nothing but punctilious, mechanical wor- 
ship and continual confession could overcome the 
terrors of hell. 

Gabriel da Costa, in spite of his punctilious 
ecclesiasticism, did not feel quieted in his conscience. 



Daily mechanical exercises failed to influence his 
mind, and Continual confession to obtain absolution 
from the lips of the priest pleased him less as he 
became more mature. Somewhat of the subtle Jew- 
ish spirit remained in his nature, and shook the 
strongly built Catholic system of belief to its founda- 
tions. The more deeply he plunged into the Catho- 
lic Jesuitic teaching, the more did doubts trouble him, 
and disturb his conscience. However, he accepted 
a semi-ecclesiastical office as chief treasurer to an 
abbey about 1615. To end his doubts, he investi- 
gated the oldest records of Holy Scripture. The 
prophets were to solve the riddles which the Roman 
Catholic Church doctrines daily presented to him. 
The fresh spirit which breathed from out of the Old 
Testament, disfigured though it was in its Latin 
guise, brought repose to his mind. The doctrines 
of Judaism appeared the more certain, as they were 
recognized by the New Testament and the Church, 
while those of Catholicism were rejected by Judaism ; 
in the one case there was unanimity, in the other, 
contradiction. Da Costa formed the resolution to 
forsake Catholicism and return to Judaism. Of an 
impulsive, passionate temperament, he sought to 
carry his resolution into effect quickly. With great 
caution he communicated his intention to his mother 
and brothers his father was already dead and 
they also resolved to expose themselves to the 
danger of secret emigration, to leave their hearth and 
home, give up a respected position in society, and 
exchange the certain present for an uncertain future. 
In spite of the Argus-eyed espionage of Marranos 
by the Inquisition and the secular authorities, the 
Da Costa family succeeded in gaining a vessel and 
escaping to Amsterdam (about 1617-18). Gabriel 
da Costa and his brothers were admitted to the 
covenant of Abraham, and Gabriel changed his 
name to Uriel. 

Of a hot-blooded nature, an enthusiast -whose 


imagination overpowered his judgment, Uriel da 
Costa had formed for himself an ideal of Judaism 
which he expected to meet with in Amsterdam, but 
which had never been realized. He thought to see 
biblical conditions, supported by pure Pentateuchal 
laws, realized in the young Amsterdam community, 
and to find an elevation of mind which would at once 
clear up the puzzles that the Catholic Church could 
not solve. What the Catholic confessors could not 
offer, he thought that he would be able to obtain 
from the rabbis of Amsterdam. Da Costa had built 
religious and dogmatic castles in the air, and was 
annoyed not to meet with them in the world of 
reality. He soon found that the religious life of the 
Amsterdam community and its established laws did 
not agree with Mosaic or Pentateuchal precepts, but 
were often opposed to them. As he had made great 
sacrifices for his convictions, he thought that he had 
the right to express his opinion freely, and point to the 
gap which existed between biblical and Rabbinical 
Judaism. He was deeply wounded, embittered, and 
irritated, and allowed himself to be completely over- 
powered by his feelings. He did not stop at mere 
words, but regulated his conduct accordingly, openly 
disregarded religious usages, and thought that in 
opposing the ordinances of the "Pharisees" (as, 
in the language of the Church, he called the rabbis), 
he was recommending himself to the favor of God. 
He thereby brought upon himself unpleasantnesses 
destined to end tragically. Were the Amsterdam 
Jews, who had suffered so much for their religion, 
quietly to see one of their members openly assail 
and ridicule Judaism, become so dear to them? 
Those born and brought up in the land of the Inquisi- 
tion had no idea of toleration and indulgence for 
the conviction of others. The rabbis, perhaps Isaac 
Uziel and Joseph Pardo, threatened Da Costa with 
excommunication, t. e., expulsion from the religious 
community and severance of all relations with it, if 



he persisted in transgressing the religious ordinan- 
ces of Judaism. This opposition only served to 
increase Da Costa's passion ; he was ill-content to 
have purchased new fetters by the sacrifices he had 
made. He continued to disregard the laws in force, 
and was eventually excommunicated. Uriel's rela- 
tives, who had more easily adapted themselves to 
the new faith, avoided him, and spoke not a word to 
him. Thus Da Costa stood alone in the midst of a 
great city. Separated from his race, friends, and 
relatives, a stranger amongst the Christian inhabi- 
tants of Amsterdam, whose language he had not yet 
learnt,and thrown upon himself, he fell more and more 
into subtle speculation, Acting under excessive irri- 
tation, he resolved to publish a work hostile to 
the Judaism of the day, and bring out particularly 
the glaring contrast between it and the Bible. As 
irrefragable proof, he intended to emphasize that the 
former recognized only bodily punishments and 
rewards, and taught nothing as to the immortality of 
the soul. But he discovered that the Bible itself 
observes silence about a purely spiritual future life, 
and does not bring within the circle of religion the 
idea of a soul separated from the body. In short, 
his investigations led him away not only from Catho- 
licism and Rabbinical Judaism 6 ; but from the Bible 
itself. It is not known how it was circulated that 
the excommunicated Da Costa intended to give 
public offense, but he was anticipated. Samuel da 
Silva, a Jewish physician, in 1623 published a work 
in the Portuguese language, entitled " A Treatise on 
the Immortality of the Soul, in order to confute the 
Ignorance of a certain Opponent, who in Delusion 
affirms many Errors." In the course of the work 
the author plainly named Uriel, and described him 
as " blind and incapable." Da Costa thought his 
opponents, especially the rabbis, had hired Da Silva's 
pen to attack him. Hence he hastened to publish 
his work, also in Portuguese (1624-1625), entitled 


" An Examination of the Pharisaic Traditions, com- 
pared with the written Laws, and Reply to the Slan- 
derer Samuel da Silva." The fact of his calling his 
opponent a slanderer shows his confusion, for he 
actually asserted what Da Silva had reproached him 
with, that the soul is not immortal. As he now had 
unequivocally declared his breach with Judaism, he 
had to take the consequences. Before, he had been 
openly scorned by young people in the street as an 
excommunicant, a heretic, an Epicurean (in the Tal- 
mudical sense) ; he had been pelted with stones, dis- 
turbed and annoyed in his own house (as he thought, 
at the instigation of the rabbis). Now, after the 
appearance of his work, the official representatives 
of the Amsterdam community complained to the 
magistrates that by denying the immortality of the 
soul, he had attacked not only the teaching of Juda- 
ism, but also of Christianity, and f had published 
errors. Da Costa was arrested, kept for several 
days in prison, at last fined 300 gulden, and his work 
condemned to the flames. The freest state of that 
time believed that it had the right to keep watch over 
and limit freedom of thought and writing ; its distinc- 
tion was merely that it kindled no funeral piles for hu- 
man beings. Da Costa' s brethren in race could not 
have persecuted him very severely, for he was able to 
bear excommunication during the long space of fif- 
teen years. Only his isolation was a heavy burden ; 
he could not endure to be avoided by his family as 
one infected with the plague. Da Costa was not a 
strong-minded man, a thinker of the first order, who 
could live happily in his world of ideas as in bound- 
less space, unconcerned about the outer world, and 
glad of his solitary freedom ; he could not do without 
the world. He had invested his capital with one of 
his brothers, and he thought that it would be endan- 
gered if he continued the war against the community. 
He thought of taking a wife, which was impossible 
so long as he was excommunicated Hence he at 


last yielded to the urgency of his relatives to become 
reconciled with the community. He was willing, as 
he said, " to be an ape among apes." He confessed 
Judaism with his lips at the very time when he had in 
his heart thoroughly fallen away from it. 

Da Costa, in his philosophical inquiries, had come 
upon a new discovery. Judaism, even in its pure 
biblical form, could not have been of divine origin, 
because it contradicts nature in many points, and 
God, the Creator of nature, can not contradict Him- 
self in revelation. He cannot command a principle 
in the Law, if He has implanted in nature an oppos- 
ing principle. This was the first step to the deistic 
tendency then appearing in France and the Nether- 
lands, which acknowledged God only in nature, not 
in the moral law, and in religious and political devel- 
opment. Da Costa' s theory supposed a religion of 
nature inborn in man, which produced and built 
up the moral law, and culminated in the love of 
members of a family to one another. The best in 
Judaism and other revealed religions is borrowed 
from the religion of nature. The latter knows only 
love and union ; the others, on the contrary, arm 
parents and children against one another on account 
of the faith. This theory was the suggestion of his 
bitterness, because his relatives avoided him, and 
showed him but little consideration. Da Costa ap- 
pears to have put forward as the religion of nature 
what the Talmud calls the Noachian command- 

In spite of his complete falling away from Juda- 
ism, he resolved, as he himself states, on the inter- 
vention of his nephew, and after passing fifteen 
years in excommunication (about 1618-1633), to 
alter his course of life and actions, make a confes- 
sion, or rather put his signature to such a document, 
an act of what he himself describes as thorough- 
going hypocrisy, designed to purchase repose and 
comfort, at the cost of conviction. But his passion- 


ate nature robbed him of both. He could not 
impose renunciation upon himself to conform to the 
religious usages of Judaism, but transgressed them 
immediately after his penitent confession. He was 
detected by one of his relatives, and they all, espec- 
ially the nephew who had brought about the recon- 
ciliation, were so embittered that they persecuted 
him even more relentlessly than those less nearly 
connected with him. They again renounced inter- 
course with him, prevented his marriage, and are 
said to have injured him in his property. Through 
his passionate hatred of Judaism, which he had con- 
fessed with his lips, he committed an act of folly 
which exposed his true sentiments. Two Chris- 
tians, an Italian and a Spaniard, had come from 
London to Amsterdam to attach themselves to 
Judaism. When they consulted Uriel da Costa on 
the subject, he gave a frightful picture of the Jewish 
form of religion, warned them against laying a 
heavy yoke on their necks, and advised thern^ to 
continue in their own faith. Contrary to promise, 
the two Christians betrayed Da Costa's remarks on 
Judaism to the leaders of the community. The war 
between them and him broke out afresh. The rab- 
bis summoned him a second time before their tribu- 
nal, set before him his religious transgressions, and 
declared that he could escape a second severe 
excommunication only by submitting to a solemn 
penance in public. More from a sense of honor 
than from conviction he refused this penance, and 
so was a second time laid under the ban, much more 
severe than the first, in which condition he con- 
tinued for seven years. During this time he was 
treated by the members of the community with 
contempt, and even spat upon. His brothers and 
nephews behaved with the greatest severity towards 
him, because they thought by that means to force 
him to repentance. They reckoned on his helpless- 
ness and weakness, and they did not reckon amiss. 


Da Costa meanwhile had reached middle age, 
had been made submissive by conflicts and excite- 
ment, and longed for repose. By process of law, 
which he had instituted against' the Amsterdam 
authorities, he could obtain nothing, because he 
could not put his complaints into a tangible form; 
he consented, therefore, to everything demanded 
for his humiliation. His public penance was to be 
very severe. There was no definite prescription on 
the subject in the religious Code, which, in fact, is 
opposed in spirit to public penance ; the sinner is 
not to confess aloud his transgressions against 
religion, but in silence to God. Judaism, from its 
origin, objected to confession and the mechanical 
avowal of sins. For this reason it remained for the 
college of rabbis to appoint a form of penance. 
The Amsterdam rabbis and the communal council, 
consisting of Marranos, adopted as a model the 
gloomy form of the tribunal of the Inquisition. 

As soon as Da Costa had consented to his humil- 
iation, he was led into one of the synagogues, which 
was full of men and women. There was to be a 
sort of auto-da-fe, and the greatest possible publicity 
was given to his penance because the scandal had 
been public. He had to ascend a stage and read 
out his confession of sins : that he had desecrated 
the Sabbath, violated the dietary laws, denied arti- 
cles of faith, and advised persons not to adopt 
Judaism. He solemnly declared that he resolved 
to be no longer guilty of such offenses, but to live 
as a true Jew. On a whisper from the first rabbi, 
probably Saul Morteira, he went to a corner of the 
synagogue, stripped as far as the girdle, and re- 
ceived thirty-nine stripes with a scourge. Then he 
was obliged to sit on the ground, after which the 
ban was removed. Not yet having satisfied the 
authorities, he had to stretch himself out on the 
threshold of the synagogue, that those present 
might step over him. It was certainly an excessive 


penance which was imposed upon him, not from a 
desire of persecution or vengeance, but from reli- 
gious scrupulousness and mimicry of Catholic forms. 
No wonder that the disgrace and humiliation deeply 
wounded Da Costa, who had consented to the pun- 
ishment, not from inward repentance, but from 
exhaustion. The public disgrace had shaken his 
whole being, and suggested thoughts of revenge. 
Instead of pitying the rabbis as the creatures of 
historical conditions, he hated them with a glowing 
feeling of revenge as the refuse of mankind, and as 
if they thought of nothing but deception, lying, and 
wickedness. His wounded sense of honor and 
heated imagination saw in the Jews of the Amster- 
dam community, perhaps in all the Jews on the 
earth's surface, his personal, venomous foes, and in 
Judaism an institution to stir up men to hatred and 
persecution. Thinking that he was surrounded by 
bitter enemies, and feeling too weak for a fresh 
conflict, he resolved to die, but at the same time to 
take vengeance on his chief persecutor, his brother 
(or cousin). To excite the sympathy of his contem- 
poraries and posterity, he wrote his autobiography 
and confession, which, however, contain no new 
thoughts, only bitterness and furious attacks against 
the Jews, intermingled with fresh aspersions of them 
in the eyes of Christians : that even at this time 
they would have crucified Jesus, and that the state 
ought not to^grant them freedom of religious pro- 
fession. This document, drawn up amidst prepara- 
tions for death, breathed nothing but revenge 
against his enemies. After he had finished his im- 
passioned testament, he loaded two pistols, and fired 
one at his relative, who was passing his house. He 
missed his aim, so he shut the door of his room, and 
killed himself with the other weapon (April, 1640). 
On opening his residence after the report of the 
shot, they found on the table his autobiography, 
"An Example of Human Life," in which he brought 


Jews and Judaism to the bar, and with pathetic sen- 
tences described them as his excited imagination in 
the last hour suggested. By this act and legacy Da 
Costa showed that he suffered himself to be over- 
powered by his feelings rather than guided by rea- 
son. He was neither a thinker nor a wise man, nor 
was his a manly character. As his system of 
thought was not well balanced, leading him to 
oppose what, existed as false and bad, because it 
was^in his way, he left no lasting impression. His 
Jewish contemporaries persisted in stubborn silence 
about him, as if they wished his memory to fall into 
oblivion. He acted like a boy who breaks the win- 
dows in an old decaying building, and thus creates a 

The second seditious thinker of this time, Leo 
(Judah) ben Isaac Modena (born 1571, died 1649), 
was of another stamp, and was reared in different 
surroundings. Leo Modena was descended from a 
cultivated family which migrated to Modena, in 
Italy, on the expulsion of the Jews from France, 
and whose ancestors, from lack of intellectual clear- 
ness, despite their education, fostered every kind of 
superstition and fanciful idea. 

Leo Modena possessed this family peculiarity in 
a high degree. He was a marvelous child. In his 
third year he could read a portion from the proph- 
ets ; in his tenth, he delivered a sort of sermon ; in 
his thirteenth, he wrote a clever dialogue on the 
question of the lawfulness of playing with cards and 
dice, and composed an elegy on the death of the 
teacher of his youth, Moses Basula, in Hebrew and 
Italian verses having the same sound a mere 
trifle, to be sure, but which at a riper age pleased 
him so well that he had it printed. But the mar- 
velous child did not develop into a marvelous man, 
into a personage of prominence or distinction. 
Modena became, however, the possessor of aston- 
ishingly varied knowledge. As he pursued all sorts 


of occupations to support himself, viz., those of 
preacher, teacher of Jews and Christians, reader 
of prayers, interpreter, writer, proof-reader, book- 
seller, broker, merchant, rabbi, musician, match- 
maker, and manufacturer of amulets, without ever 
attaining to a fixed position, so he studied many 
departments of knowledge without specially distin- 
guishing himself in any. He grasped the whole of 
biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic literature, was well 
read in Christian theological works, understood 
something of philosophy and physics, was able to 
write Hebrew and Italian verses in short, he had 
read everything accessible through the medium of 
three languages, Hebrew, Latin, and Italian. He 
remembered what he read, for he possessed an ex- 
cellent memory, invented a method of sharpening 
it still more, and wrote a book on this subject. But 
Leo Modena had no delight either in knowledge or 
poetry ; neither had value for him except so far as 
they brought bread. He preached, wrote books 
and verses, translated and commented, all to earn 
money, which he wasted in card-playing, a passion 
which he theoretically considered most culpable, but 
in practice could not overcome. At the age of sixty 
he acquired property, but lost it more quickly than 
he had acquired it, squandering 100 ducats in 
scarcely a month, and twice as much in the following 
year. Knowledge had not enlightened and elevated 
him, had had no influence on his principles. Leo 
Modena possessed neither genius nor character. 
Dissatisfied with himself and his lot, in constant 
disquiet on account of his fondness for gaming, and 
battling with need, he became a prey to doubt. 
Religion had no power over his heart ; he preached 
to others, but not to himself. Unbelief and super- 
stition waged continual war within him. He envied 
naive believers, who, in their simplicity, are undis- 
turbed by doubt, expect, and, as Leo added, obtain 
happiness from scrupulously observing the ceremon- 


ies. Inquirers, on the other hand, are obliged to 
struggle for their faith and the happiness dependent 
upon it, and are tortured incessantly by pangs of 
doubt. He had no real earnestness nor true con- 
viction, or rather, according to his humor and mood, 
he had a different one every day, without being a 
hypocrite. Hence he could say of himself, " I do 
not belong to the class of painted people, my out- 
ward conduct always corresponds with my feelings." 

Leo Modena was sincere at each moment. On 
one day he broke a lance for the Talmud and Rab- 
binical Judaism, on the next, condemned them 
utterly. He disapproved of gaming, and grieved 
that the stars had given him this unfortunate pro- 
pensity, for he believed also in astrology ; yet he 
prepared a Talmudical decision defending it. 
When the Venetian college of rabbis pronounced 
the ban on cards and dice, he pointed out that gam- 
ing was permissible by Rabbinical principles, and 
that the ban had no justification. His disciple, 
Joseph Chamiz, a physician and mystic, once asked 
him his opinion on the Kabbalistic transmigration of 
souls. Modena replied that as a rule he would pro- 
fess belief in the doctrine even though convinced of 
its folly, in order not to be pronounced a heretic and 
a fool, but to him he was willing to express his sin- 
cere and true views. Thereupon Leo Modena pre- 
pared a work to expose the absurdity and incon- 
sistency with Judaism of the belief in transmigration 
of souls. But so feebly was this conviction rooted 
in his nature that, having had an extraordinary ex- 
perience, he again, at least for a time, believed in 
the transmigration of souls, a favorite theory of the 

The Ghetto of Venice must have been a totally 
different place from that of Frankfort, or Prague, or 
from the Polish-Jewish quarters, since it was possi- 
ble for men like Leo Modena, with his peculiar 
principles, and Simone Luzzatto, as little of a gen- 


uine rabbi, to be members of the rabbinate. In the 
largest Italian community next to that of Rome, 
consisting of 6,000 souls, there were cultivated Jews 
interested in Italian and general European culture, 
and enjoying not only social, but also literary inter- 
course with Christian society. The walls of the 
Ghetto formed no partition between the Jewish and 
the Christian population. At this time, in the age 
of Shakespeare, there was no Shylock, certainly not 
in Venice, who would have stipulated as payment 
for his loan a pound of flesh from his Christian 
debtor. The people properly so called, workmen, 
sailors, and porters, precisely in Venice, were milder 
and more friendly towards Jews than in other Chris- 
tian cities. Jewish manufacturers employed 4,000 
Christian workmen in the lagoon city, so that their 
existence depended on their Jewish employers alone. 
At the time of a devastating pestilence, when, even 
in this well policed city, the reins of government 
became slacker and looser, and threatened to fall 
from the hands of those in power, Jewish capitalists 
voluntarily offered their money to the state to 
prevent embarrassment. There were not a few 
among them who vied with the cultivated classes 
among the Christians in the elegant use of the 
Italian language in speaking and writing, and in 
making good verses. Besides the two rabbis, Leo 
Modena andSimone Luzzatto, two Jewish poetesses, 
Deborah Ascarelli and Sarah Copia Sullam, are 
illustrations thereof. The first, the wife of Joseph 
Ascarelli, a respected Venetian, translated Hebrew 
hymns into elegant Italian strophes, and also com- 
posed original verses. A Jewish-Italian poet ad- 
dressed her in verses thus : " Others may sing of 
great trophies, thou glorifiest thy people." 

The graceful and spiritual Sarah Copia (born 
about 1600, died 1641) excited a certain amount of 
attention in her time. She was an original poetess 
and thinker, and her gifts, as well as her grace, 


brought her temptations and dangers. The only 
child of a wealthy father, Simon Copia (Coppio) in 
V enice,^ who loved her tenderly, she yielded to her 
inclination for instruction, and devoted herself to 
science and literature. To this inclination she 
remained true even after her marriage with Jacob 
Sullam. Sarah Copia Sullam surpassed her sex and 
even men of her age in knowledge. She delighted 
in beauty, and breathed out her inspirations in 
rhythmic, elegant verses. Young, attractive, with a 
noble heart and a penetrating understanding, striving 
after high ideals, and a favorite of the muses, Sarah 
Sullam fascinated the old as well as the young. 
Her musical, well-trained voice excited admiration. 
When an elderly Italian priest, Ansaldo Ceba, at 
Genoa, published an heroic poem in Italian strophes, 
of which the scriptural Esther was the heroine, Sarah 
was so delighted, that she addressed an enthusiastic 
anonymous letter full of praise to the author (1618). 
It pleased her to see a Jewish heroine, her ideal, 
celebrated in verses, and the attention of the culti- 
vated public directed to Jewish antiquity. She 
hoped that thereby the prejudice against the Jews 
of the day would vanish. Sarah did not conceal 
from the poet that she always carried his poetical 
creations about with her, and at night put his book 
under her pillow. Instead of finding satisfaction in 
the sincere homage of a pure woman's soul, Ceba, 
in his zeal for conversion, thought only of bringing 
her over to Christianity. When he heard Sarah's 
beauty extolled by the servant whom he sent with 
presents and verses, love for her awoke in him. 
This was increased by her sending him her portrait, 
accompanied by enthusiastic verses in the exaggera- 
ted style of that time, in which she said : " I carry 
my idol in my heart, and I wish everyone to worship 
him." But the beautiful Venetian Jewess did not 
allow herself to be entrapped. She held firmly to 
her Jewish beliefs, and unfolded to her priestly friend 


the reasons that induced her to prefer Judaism. In 
vain did Ceba, by tenderness, reproofs, and senti- 
mental languishing, with intimations of his speedy 
end, and his longing to be united with her in heaven, 
endeavor to make her waver in her conviction. 
When he begged permission to pray for her salva- 
tion, she granted his request on condition that she 
might pray for his conversion to Judaism. 

Her exceptional position as poetess, and her con- 
nection with Christians of high rank, brought her 
renown, not unattended by annoyances. Slander- 
ous fellow-believers spread the report, that she 
esteemed the principles of Judaism but lightly, 
and did not fully believe in their divinity. An 
unprincipled Christian priest, Balthasar Bonifaccio, 
who later occupied the position of bishop, published 
a work accusing the Jewess Sarah Sullam of deny- 
ing the immortality of the soul. Such a charge 
might in Catholic Venice have had other effects than 
that against Uriel da Costa in free-thinking, Pro- 
testant Amsterdam. Not merely fine and imprison- 
ment might have been inflicted, but the Inquisition 
might have, sentenced her to the dungeon, to torture, 
and perhaps even the stake. Hardly recovered 
from illness, she wrote (1621) a manifesto on the 
immortality of the soul, full of ripe dialectics,- noble 
courage, and crushing force, against her slanderous 
accuser. The dedication to her deceased father is 
touching, and still more touching is her fervent 
psalm-like prayer in melodious Italian verses. The 
consciousness that she, a woman and Jewess, could 
not rely on her own strength, but only on help from 
above, spreads a halo about her memory. The end 
of this affair is not known. Ceba's epic " Esther " 
probably induced Leo Modena to translate Solomon 
Usque's tragedy on the same subject from Spanish 
into Italian verse ; he dedicated it to Sarah Copia, 
whose epitaph he composed in melodious Hebrew 


^ Modena also had frequent intercourse with 
Christians. His peculiar nature, his communicative 
disposition, and great learning, as also his wit and 
his fondness for gaming, opened the doors of Chris- 
tian circles to the volatile rabbi. Christian disciples 
sat at his feet. The French bishop Jacob Plantavi- 
cius, and the half-crazed Christian Kabbalist Jacob 
Gaffarelli, were his pupils. Nobles and learned 
men ^ corresponded with him, and permitted him to 
inscribe his works to them with flattering dedica- 
tions, Leo Modena held in Italy nearly the same 
position as Manasseh ben Israel in Holland. In the 
conversation of serious men and in the merry circle 
of gamesters, he often heard the ceremonies of 
Judaism ridiculed as childish nonsense (Lex Judse- 
orum lex puerorum). At first he defended his 
religion, but gradually was forced to admit one thing 
and another in Judaism to be defective and ridic- 
ulous ; he was ashamed to be so thoroughly a Jew 
as to justify all consequences. His necessities led 
him, on pressure from Christian friends, to render 
single portions, and at last the whole, of the Jewish 
code accessible to the Christian public in the Italian 
language. An English lord paid him for the work, 
with the intention of giving it to King James I, who 
made pretensions to extensive learning. After- 
wards his Christian disciple Gaffarelli had this work, 
entitled " The Hebrew Rites/' printed in Paris, and 
dedicated it to the French ambassador at Venice. 
In this work, eagerly read by Christians, Leo Mo- 
dena, like Ham, uncovered his father's nakedness, 
exposed the inner sanctuary of the Jews to prying 
and mocking eyes. To the uninitiated, that which 
within the Jewish circle was a matter for reverence 
could not but appear petty, silly, and absurd. Leo 
Modena explained what ceremonies and statutes 
Jews employ in connection with their dwellings, 
clothing, household furniture, up-rising and lying 
down, physical functions, and in the synagogues and 


schools. Involuntarily the author associated himself 
with the despisers of Judaism, which he as rabbi had 
practiced and taught. He showed that he was con- 
scious of this : 

"While writing I in fact forgot that I am a Jew, and considered 
myself a simple, impartial narrator. However, I do not deny that I 
have taken pains to avoid ridicule on account of the numerous cere- 
monies, but I had no intention to defend and palliate, because I wished 
only to communicate, not convince." 

However, it would be an error to infer from this 
that Leo Modena had at heart completely broken 
with Rabbinical Judaism, He was, as has been 
stated, not a man of firm and lasting convictions. 
Almost at the same time when he exposed the rites 
of Judaism to the Christian public, he composed a 
defense of them and oral teaching in general against 
attacks from the Jewish side. A Hamburg Jew of 
Marrano descent had raised eleven points to show 
the falsehood of Talmudic tradition. Of these 
arguments some are important, others frivolous. 
The Hamburg sceptic laid chief stress on the point 
that Talmudic and Rabbinic ordinances are addi- 
tions to Pentateuchal Judaism, and the Pentateuch 
had expressly forbidden additions of this sort. At 
the wish of certain Portuguese Jews, Leo Modena 
confuted these objections, raised by a sciolist. His 
confutation was a feeble performance, and contains 
nothing new. With Leo Modena one never knew 
whether he was earnest in his belief or his unbelief. 
As in youth he had brought forward reasons for and 
against games of chance, had finally condemned 
them, and nevertheless freely engaged in them, so 
he behaved with regard to Talmudical Judaism. 
He attacked it, defended it, made it appear ridicu- 
lous, and yet practiced it with a certain degree of 

Some years after his vindication of Talmudical 
Judaism against the Hamburg sceptic he composed 
the best work (1624) that issued from his active 


pen. On the one side it was a weighty attack on 
Rabbinical Judaism, such as had hardly been made 
even by Christians and Karaites, on the other side, 
an impressive defense of it. He did not venture 
to put his own name to the heavy charges against 
Judaism, but used a fictitious name. The part 
which contains the attacks he called "The Fool's 
Voice" (Kol Sachal), and the defense, " The Roar- 
ing of the Lion" (Shaagath Aryeh). Leo Modena 
allotted to two characters his own duplex nature, 
his varying convictions. He makes the opponent 
of Judaism express himself with a boldness such as 
Uriel da Costa might have envied. Not only did 
he undermine the Rabbinical Judaism of the Talmud, 
but also biblical Judaism, the Sinaitic revelation, and 
the Torah. But the blows which Leo Modena, 
under the name of Ibn-Raz of Alkala, in an attack 
of unbelief, inflicted on oral teaching, or Talmudical 
Judaism, were most telling. 

He premises that no form of religion maintains 
itself in its original state and purity according to the 
views of its founder. Judaism, also, although the 
lawgiver expressly warned his . followers against 
adding anything, had many additions thrust upon it. 
Interpretation and comment had altered many 
things in it. Ibn-Raz (or Leo Modena in his unbe- 
lieving mood) examines with a critical eye Jacob 
Asheri's code, and at each point marks the additions 
made by the rabbis to the original code, and where 
they had weakened and distorted it. He goes so 
far as to make proposals how to clear Judaism of 
excrescences, in order to restore genuine, ancient, 
biblical, spiritual Judaism. This was the first at- 
tempt at reform : a simplification of the prayers and 
synagogue service, abolition of rites, omission of the 
second day of the festivals, relaxation of Sabbath, 
festival, Passover, and even Day of Atonement laws. 
Every one was to fast only according to his bodily 
and spiritual powers. He wished to see the ritual 


for slaughtering animals and the laws as to food set 
aside, or simplified. The prohibition to, drink wine 
with those of other creeds made Jews ridiculous, as 
also did the strictness against alleged idolatry. All 
this, observed Ibn-Raz, or Leo Modena, at the 
close, does not exhaust the subject ; it is only a 
specimen of the evil of Rabbinical Judaism. He 
knew well that he would be pronounced a heretic, 
and persecuted on account of his frank criticism, 
but if he could open the eyes of a single reader, he 
would consider himself amply rewarded. 

Had Leo Modena been in earnest with this bold 
view, which would have revolutionized the Judaism 
of his day, had he uttered it to the world with deep 
conviction, he would no doubt have produced great 
commotion in Judaism. But criticism of the Talmud 
was only mental amusement for him ; he did not 
intend to engage in an actual conflict. He com- 
posed a reply with as little sincerity, and let both 
attack and defense slumber among his papers. 

Leo Modena was more in earnest with the attack 
on the Kabbala, which had become burdensome and 
repulsive to him. He felt impelled to discharge 
destructive arrows against it, and this he did with 
masterly skill He called the anti-Kabbalistic work, 
which he dedicated to his disciple Joseph Chamiz, 
a Luryan enthusiast, "The Roaring Lion" (Ari 
Noham). From many sides he threw light on the 
deceptions, the absurdity, and the falsehood of the 
Kabbala and its fundamental source, the Zohar. 
Neither this work nor his attacks on Talmudical 
Judaism were published by him : the author was not 
anxious to labor in either direction. To a late age 
he continued his irregular life, without striving after 
real improvement. Leo Modena died, weary of the 
conflict, not with gods (t. e., ideas) and men, but 
with himself, and of the troubles which he had 
brought upon himself. 

Apparently similar, yet differing fundamentally 


from him, was the third burrower of this period : 
Joseph Solomon Delmedigo (born 1591, died 1655). 
Scion of an old and noble family, in whose midst 
science and the Talmud were cultivated, and great- 
grandson on the female side of the clear thinker 
Elias Del Medigo, he but slightly resembled the 
other^ members o"f his house. His father, a rabbi in 
Candia, had not only initiated him into Talmudic 
literature, but also made him learn Greek. Later 
Delmedigo acquired the literary languages of the 
time, Italian- and Spanish in addition to Latin. The 
knowledge of languages, however, was only a means 
to an end. At the University of Padua he obtained 
his scientific education ; he showed decided inclina- 
tion for mathematics and astronomy, and could 
boast of having as his tutor the great Galileo, the 
discoverer of the laws of the heavens, the martyr to 
natural science. By him he was made acquainted 
with the Copernican system of the sun and the 
planets. Neither Delmedigo nor any believing Jew 
labored under the delusion that the stability of the 
sun and the motion of the earth were in contradic- 
tion to the Bible, and therefore heretical. Del- 
medigo also studied medicine, but only as a pro- 
fession ; his favorite subject continued to be math- 
ematics. He enriched his mind with all the treas- 
ures of knowledge, more varied even than that of 
Leo Modena, to whom during his residence in Italy 
he clung as a disciple to his master. In the circle 
of Jewish-Italian semi-freethinkers he lost the simple 
faith which he had brought from home, and doubts 
as to the truth of tradition stole upon him, but he 
was not sufficiently animated by a desire for truth 
either to overcome these doubts and become settled 
in the early belief to which he had been brought up, 
or unsparinglf to expose the false elements in Jew- 
ish tradition. Joseph Delmedigo was as little 
formed to be a martyr to his convictions as Leo 
Modena, the latter by reason of fickleness, the 
former, of insincerity. 


With doubt in his heart he returned to his home 
in Candia, and gave offense by his free mode of 
thought, especially by his preference for secular 
knowledge. He made enemies, who are said to 
have persecuted him, and was obliged to leave his 
native land. Then began a migratory life, which 
drove him from city to city, like his model Ibn-Ezra. 
Like him, he made friends with the Karaites 
wherever he met them, and they thronged to his 
presence. At Cairo Delmedigo celebrated a com- 
plete triumph with his mathematical knowledge, 
when an old Mahometan teacher of mathematics, AH 
Ibn-Rahmadan, challenged him, a youth, to a public 
combat, in which Ali was beaten. The victorious 
combatant was magnanimous enough to show honor 
to Ali before the world. Instead of betaking him- 
self to Palestine as he had intended, Delmedigo 
traveled to Constantinople ; here also he attached 
himself to the circle of the Karaites, and at last 
passed through Wallachia and Moldavia to Poland. 
There, mathematics procuring him no bread, he 
practiced medicine, of which, however, he had learnt 
more from books than by the bedside of patients. 
In Poland he passed for a great physician, and was 
taken into the service of Prince Radziwill, in Wilna 
(about 1619-1620). Here, through the excessive 
attention given to the Talmud, general culture was 
forsaken, but youths and men eager for learning, 
especially Karaites, thronged to Delmedigo to slake 
their thirst for knowledge. A half-crazed Karaite, 
Serach ben Nathan of Trok, who had an inclination 
to Rabbinical Judaism, in order to show his exten- 
sive knowledge, with mock humility laid before him 
a number of important questions, which Delmedigo 
was to answer offhand, and sent him a sable fur for 
the Polish winter. 

Delmedigo found it to his advantage, in order to 
give himself the appearance of a distinguished char- 
acter in Poland, to shroud himself in silence and 



seclusion. He at first answered Serach's questions 
not personally, but through one of his companions, 
an assistant and follower, Moses Metz. This man 
described his teacher as a choice intellect, a demi- 
god, who carried in his brain all human and divine 
knowledge. ^ He sketched his appearance and 
character^ his occupation and behavior, regulated, 
as he said, by higher wisdom, gave information 
about his descent from a learned and distinguished 
family on his father's and his mother's side, and, as 
his teacher's mouth-piece, imposed upon the credu- 
lous Karaite by saying that he had composed works 
on all branches of knowledge, at which the world 
would be astonished, if they came to light. Metz 
also communicated to Serach some of his teacher's 
theories in mathematics, religion, and philosophy, 
and thus still more confused Serach's mind. In his 
communications on Judaism, which Delmedigo either 
made himself or through Moses Metz, he was very 
cautious ; here and there, it is true, he allowed a 
suggestion of unbelief to glimmer through, but 
quickly covered it over with a haze of orthodoxy. 
Only where he could do so without danger Del- 
medigo expressed his real opinion. 

When he at last sent the Karaite an answer to a 
letter with his own hand (about 1621), he did not 
conceal his true views, but declared his preference 
for Karaism and its ancient teachers, loaded them 
undeservedly with praise, exalted science, and ridi- 
culed the delusions of the Kabbala and its adherents. 
In the same letter to Serach, Delmedigo indulged 
in scoffs against the Talmud, and thought the Kara- 
ites fortunate that they were able to dispense with 
it. He had nothing to fear when he unburdened 
his heart before his Karaite admirer. 

Delmedigo does not seem, on the whole, to have 
been at ease in Poland. He could not carouse with 
the nobles whom he attended professionally for fear 
of the Jews, and it was not possible to earn money 


in so poor a country. So he betook himself by way 
of Dantzic to Hamburg, where a Portuguese com- 
munity had been lately permitted to settle. His 
knowledge of medicine seems to have met with little 
esteem in the city on the Elbe. What was his skill 
in comparison with that of the De Castros, father 
and son? He was compelled, in order to subsist, 
to undertake a certain amount of rabbinical duty, if 
only as preacher. For the sake of bread he had 
to play the hypocrite, and speak in favor of Rabbin- 
ical Judaism. Nay, in order to dissipate the rumor 
from Poland, which represented him as a heretic, he 
was not ashamed to praise the Kabbala, which he 
had shortly before condemned, as the highest wis- 
dom, before which philosophy and all sciences must 
be dumb. For this purpose he prepared his defense 
of the secret doctrine, in refutation of the crushing 
arguments against it by one of his ancestors, Elias 
Del Medigo. His work was of the kind to throw 
dust in the eyes of the ignorant multitude ; it dis- 
played a smattering of learning on all sorts of sub- 
jects, but no trace of logic. He was too clever to 
maintain the sheepish style of dull, stupid credulity, 
and could not refrain from satire. He defended the 

genuineness of the Zohar as an ancient work by 
imon bar Yochai, or at least by his school. He 
argued that one must not be shocked by its many 
incongruities and absurdities ; the Talmud also con- 
tains not a few, and is yet a sacred book. To save 
his reputation with the more intelligent, Delmedigo 
intimated that he had defended the Kabbala only 
from necessity. We must not, he says, superficially 
judge the character of an author by his words. He, 
for instance, was writing this defense of the Kabbala 
at the desire of a patron of high position, who was 
enamored of it. Should this friend come to be of 
another mind, and require an attack upon the Kab- 
bala, he would not refuse him. In conclusion, he 
observes that philosophical students would no doubt 


ridicule him for having turned his back on wisdom, 
and betaken himself to folly ; but he would rather 
be called a fool all his life than for a single hour 
transgress against piety. 

This work, commenced in Hamburg, Delmedigo 
could not finish there. A pestilence broke out, and 
drove him, physician though he was, to Gluckstadt. 
In this small community, where, as he said, there 
was neither town (Stadt) nor luck (Gluck), he could 
find no means of subsistence, and he traveled on to 
Amsterdam about 1629. He could not attempt to 
practice medicine in a city where physicians lived 
of even higher eminence than at Hamburg, and so 
was obliged a second time to apply himself to the 
functions of rabbi. To show his importance, he 
printed his^scientific replies to the questions of his 
Polish admirers, with the fulsome eulogies, clouds of 
incense, and foolish homage which the young Kara- 
ite Serach had offered him. It is a work of truly 
Polish disorder, in which mathematical theorems and 
scientific problems are discussed by the side of phil- 
osophical and theological questions, in a confused 
way. Delmedigo took care not to print his attacks 
upon the Kabbala and the Talmud, and his prefer- 
ence for the Karaites in short, all that he had 
written to please the rich Serach. Instead of pub- 
lishing an encyclopaedic work which he boastfully 
said he had composed in his earliest youth, and 
which embraced all sciences and solved all questions, 
he produced a mere medley. 

The Amsterdam community was then full of 
suspicion against philosophy and culture owing to 
the reckless behavior of Da Costa, and therefore 
Delmedigo thought it advisable to ward off every 
suspicion of unbelief, and get a reputation for strictest 
orthodoxy. This transparent hypocrisy did not 
answer well. He was, it is true, appointed preacher, 
and partially rabbi, in or near Amsterdam, but he 
could remain in Holland only a few years. Poor 


and unstable as he was, he went with his wife to 
Frankfort-on-the-Main about 1630 to seek means 
of subsistence. But here, in a German community, 
where Rabbinical learning was diffused, he could 
not obtain a rabbinical office ; but he could turn his 
medical knowledge, scanty as it was, to account. 
As he felt no vocation for the office of rabbi, nor for 
medical practice, it was a matter of indifference if 
he changed the preacher's gown for the doctor's 
mantle. He was engaged, under irksome condi- 
tions, as communal doctor (February 14, 1631). 
How long he remained at Frankfort is not known ; 
his position cannot have been favorable, for he re- 
moved to Prague (about 1648-1650), and in this 
most neglected community he settled. Later (1652) 
he was at Worms, probably only temporarily, and 
ended his life, which had promised so much, and 
realized so little, at" Prague. Nor did he publish 
any part of his great work, which he had announced 
with so much pomposity. 

In a measure Simone (Simcha) Luzzatto (born 
about 1590, died 1663) maybe reckoned among the 
sceptics of this time. He was, at the same time as 
Leo Modena, rabbi in Venice. Luzzatto was not 
an eminent personage ; but he had more solidity 
than his colleague Modena, or than Delmedigo. 
By the latter, who knew him personally, he was 
praised as a distinguished mathematician. He was 
also well read in ancient and modern literature. 
His uprightness and love of truth, which he never 
belied, distinguished him more than his knowledge 
and learning. A parable which Luzzatto wrote in 
Italian in his youth shows his views, as also his 
maturity of thought, and that he had reflected early 
on the relation of faith to science. He puts his 
thoughts into the mouth of Socrates, the father of 
Greek wisdom. At Delphi an academy had been 
formed to rectify the errors of human knowledge. 
Reason immediately presented a petition from the 


dungeon, where she had been so long kept by ortho- 
dox authority, to be set at liberty. Although the 
chief representatives of knowledge, Pythagoras and 
Aristotle, spoke against this request, and uttered a 
warning against her liberation, because, when free, 
she would produce and spread abroad most frightful 
errors, yet the academy set her at liberty ; for by 
that means alone could knowledge be promoted. 
But the newly liberated minds caused great mis- 
chief ; and the academicians were at a loss what to 
do. Then Socrates rose, and in a long speech 
explained that reason and authority, if allowed to 
reign alone, would produce only errors and mischief; 
but if mutually limited, reason by revelation, and 
revelation by reason, they mingle in the right pro- 
portion, and produce beautiful harmony, whereby 
man may attain his goal here below and hereafter. 
This thought, that reason and faith must regulate 
and keep watch over each other, which, in Maimuni's 
time had passed into a commonplace, was at this 
period, under the rule of Lurya's Kabbala, con- 
sidered in Jewish circles a bold innovation. 

Simone Luzzatto did not suffer himself to be en- 
snared by Kabbalistic delusions ; he did not cast 
reason behind him; he was a believer, but withal 
sober-minded. He did not share the delusion of 
Manasseh ben Israel and others that the lost tribes 
of Israel were existing in some part of the world 
enjoying independence as a military power. With 
sober Jewish inquirers of former times, he assumed 
that Daniel's revelation does not point to a future 
Messiah, but only reflects historical events. He 
composed a work on the manners and beliefs of the 
Jews, which he proposed to exhibit "faithfully to 
truth, without zeal and passion." It was probably 
designed to form a counterpart to Leo Modena's 
representation, which cast a shadow on Judaism. 

Luzzatto's defense of Judaism and the Jews, 
under the title " A Treatise on the Position of the 


Hebrews," is masterly. It speaks eloquently for 
his practical, sober sense, for his love of truth, his 
attachment to Judaism, and his solid knowledge. 
He did not wish to dedicate it to any individual 
patron out of flattery, but to the friends of truth in 
general. He conjured these friends not to esteem 
the remnant of the ancient Hebrew nation, even if 
disfigured by sufferings, and saddened by long op- 
pression, more lightly than a mutilated work of art 
by Phidias or Lysipptis, since all men were agreed 
that this nation was once animated and led by the 
greatest of Masters. It is astonishing what thorough 
knowledge the rabbi had of the commerce of that 
time, and the influence upon it of the political posi- 
tion of European and neighboring Asiatic states. 
The object of his defense was primarily to disarm 
the ill-will of certain Venetian patricians against the 
Jews in that strictly governed state. The common 
people had little antipathy to the Jews ; they lived 
to some extent on them. But among those who 
had a share in the government there were fanatical 
religious zealots and envious opponents, who advo- 
cated further restrictions, or even banishment. It 
did not suit them that the Venetian Jews, who, shut 
up in the Ghetto, possessed neither land nor the 
right to carry on a handicraft, competed with them 
in finance and trade. The commercial city of 
Venice, far surpassed by the new naval powers, 
Holland and England, which had gradually obtained 
control of the trade with the Levant, saw many of 
its great houses of business in splendid misery, while 
new Jewish capitalists stepped into their place, and 
seized the Levantine business. With artful turns and 
delicate hints, Luzzatto gave the politicians of Venice 
to understand that exhaustion was hastening the 
downfall of the republic. The prosperous cared 
only to keep what they had acquired and for enjoy- 
ment, and former Venetian commerce seemed to be 
falling into the hands of foreigners. Hence the 


Jews had become a blessing to the state. It was 
more advisable to leave its extensive trade, especi- 
ally that of the East, to native Jews, and to protect 
them, than to see it diverted to neighboring towns, 
or to strangers, .who formed a state within the state, 
were not always obedient to the laws, and gradually 
carried the ready money out of the country. Luz- 
zatto calculated from 'statistics that the Jews contrib- 
uted more than 2 50,000 ducats to the republic every 
year, that they gave bread to 4,000 workpeople, 
supplied home manufactures at a cheap rate, and 
obtained goods from distant countries. It was 
reserved for a rabbi to bring this political-economical 
consideration, of vital importance for the island 
republic, to the notice of wise councilors. Luzzatto 
also called attention to the important advantage 
which the capital of the Jews had recently been, 
when, during the pestilence and the dissolution of 
political government, the Jews had spontaneously 
offered money to the state to prevent embarrass- 

Luzzatto also defended the Jews against attacks 
on the religious side, but on this point his exposition 
is not original. If he brought out the bright traits 
of his Jewish contemporaries, he by no means 
passed over their dark ones in silence, and that 
redounds to his credit. Luzzatto depicted them 
in the following manner. However different may 
be the manner of Venetian Jews from their brethren 
in Constantinople, Damascus, Germany, or Poland, 
they all have something in common : 

" It is a nation of timid and unmanly disposition, at present incap- 
able of political government, occupied only with its separate interests, 
and caring little about the public welfare. The economy of the Jews 
borders on avarice ; they are admirers of antiquity, and have no eye 
for the present course of things. Many are uneducated, without 
taste for learning or the knowledge of languages, and, in following 
the laws of their religion, they exaggerate to the most painful degree. 
But they have also noteworthy peculiarities firmness and endurance 
in their religion, uniformity of doctrinal teaching in the long course 
of more than fifteen centuries since the dispersion ; wonderful stead- 
fastness, which'leads them, if not to go into dangers, yet to endure 


the severest suffering. They possess knowledge of Holy Scripture 
and its exposition, gentleness and hospitality to the members of their 
race the Persian Jew in some degree suffers the wrongs of the Ital- 
ian strict abstinence from carnal offenses, extraordinary carefulness 
to keep the family unspotted, and skill in managing difficult matters. 
They are submissive and yielding to everyone, Only not to their breth- 
ren in religion. The failings of the Jews have rather the character 
of cowardice and meanness than of cruelty and atrocity." 

What Luzzatto's position was with regard to the 
Talmud he did not distinctly state, but only ex- 
plained generally that there are three or four classes 
of Jews : Talmudists or Rabbanites, who hold the 
oral law of equal authority with the Bible ; secondly, 
a philosophical and cultured class ; and, lastly, Kab- 
balists, and Karaites. Yet he intimated that he 
held the Talmudical tradition to be true ; whilst he 
considered the Kabbala as not of Jewish, but of Pla- 
tonic, Pythagorean, and Gnostic origin. One of his 
disciples relates of him that he ridiculed the Kab- 
balists, and thought their theory had no claim to the 
title of tradition ; it was wanting in the Holy Spirit. 

These four thinkers, more or less dissatisfied 
with the Judaism of the day, who were furnished 
with so much intellect, knowledge, and eloquence, 
yet exerted very little influence over their Jewish 
contemporaries, and thus did not break through the 
prevailing obscurity in the smallest degree. Luz- 
zatto wrote for only a limited class of readers, and 
did not inflict, or wish to inflict, heavy blows on 
Judaism. Uriel da Costa missed his mark on ac- 
count of his violent, impatient disposition ; Leo 
Modena was himself too wavering, driven hither 
and thither by the wind of conflicting opinions, to 
acquire serious convictions and do battle for them. 
His attacks on the weak side of Judaism, as has 
been stated, were made in private. Joseph Del- 
medigo did more harm than good through his insin- 
cerity and hypocrisy. Lacking character, he sank 
so low as to speak in favor of the confused doctrines 
of the Kabbala, and by the weight of his knowledge 
confirmed and increased the delusion of the multi- 


tude. But from two other quarters, by two quite 
opposite characters, weighty blows against Judaism 
were delivered, threatening completely to shatter it. 
Reason incorporated, as it were, in one Jew, and 
unreason incarnate in another, joined hands to treat 
Judaism as abolished and dissolved, and, so to 
speak, to dethrone the God of Israel. 



Spinoza's Youth and Education His Intellectual Breach with Juda- 
ism Fresh Martyrs of the Inquisition The Rabbis and Spinoza 
Excommunication Spinoza's "Tractate" and *' Ethics" 
Spinoza's Writings Concerning Judaism Spinoza's Contem- 
poraries in Amsterdam De Paz and Penso The Mystical 
Character of the Years 1648 and 1666 Sabbatai Zevi's early 
Career The Jerusalem Community Sabbata'f's Travels 
Nathan Ghazati Sabbatai' announced in Smyrna as the Mes- 
siah Spread of Enthusiastic Belief in the pseudo-Messiah 
Manoel Texeira Ritual Changes introduced by the Sab- 
batians Sabbata* proceeds to Constantinople Nehemiah Cohen 
Sabbatai 1 Zevi's Apostasy to Islam and its Consequences Con- 
tinuation of the Sabbatian Movement Death of Sabbataf and 
Spinoza Results of the Sabbatian Imposture. 

16561677 c. E. 

WHILST Manasseh ben Israel was zealously laboring 
to complete the fabric of Judaism by hastening on 
the Messianic era, one of his disciples was applying 
an intellectual lever to destroy this edifice to its 
foundation and convert it into a shapeless dust 
heap. He was earnest about what was only amuse- 
ment for Leo Modena. The Jewish race once 
more brought a deep thinker Into the world, one 
who was radically to heal the human mind of its 
rooted perversities and errors, and to prescribe a 
new direction for it, that it might better comprehend 
the connection between heaven and earth, between 
mind and matter. Like his ancestor Abraham, this 
Jewish thinker desired to break to pieces all idols 
and vaia images, before which men had hitherto 
bowed down through fear, custom, and indolence, 
and to reveal to them a new God, not enthroned in 
heaven's height beyond their reach, but living and 
moving within them, whose temple they themselves 
should be. His influence was like that of the storm, 



deafening and crushing down, but also purifying and 

The lightning flashes of this great philosophical 
genius did greatest injury to Judaism which was 
nearest to him. In the degradation of the religion 
of his day and its professors, even his searching 
gaze could not recognize the fair form concealed 
beneath a loathsome exterior. 

This great thinker, the most famous philosopher 
of his time, who brought about a new redemption, 
was Baruch Spinoza (really Espinosa, born in Spain 
1632, died 1677). He belonged to a family eminent 
for neither intellect nor wealth. No sign at his birth 
portended that he would reign for more than two 
centuries a king in the realm of thought. With 
many other boys, he attended the Jewish school, 
consisting of seven classes, recently established in 
Amsterdam, whither his parents had migrated. 
With his extraordinary talents he surely kept pace 
with the requirements of the school, if he did not 
exceed them. In his thirteenth or fourteenth year 
he was probably introduced by Manasseh ben Israel 
to the study of the Talmud, and initiated into 
Hebrew grammar, rhetoric, and poetry. He re- 
ceived final instruction in Rabbinical lore from Saul 
Morteira, the greatest Talmudist of his time in Am- 
sterdam. Together with Spinoza Morteira taught 
others who later had more or less influence on Jew- 
ish history, but were of quite another stamp. 

Moses Zacut (1630-1697), a descendant of the 
famous family of that name, was" held to be Mor- 
teira's first disciple. From his youth upwards, with 
his predilection for mysticism and poetry, he formed 
a direct contrast to Spinoza. He loved what was 
inexact and obscure, Spinoza the clear and definite. 
Two incidents may serve to portray Moses Zacut. 
He was asked when young what he thought of the 
fabulous narratives of Rabba Bar-Bar-Chana in the 
Talmud, which are like those of Miinchhausen, and he 


replied that he regarded them as historical. When 
young he learned Latin like most Portuguese youths 
in Amsterdam. Later, he so regretted having learned 
that language, that he fasted forty days in order to 
forget it, because, as he thought, this tongue of the 
devil was not compatible with Kabbalistic truth. 
Another fellow-disciple of Spinoza was Isaac Naar 
(Nahar), likewise a mystic, and of a spiteful and not 
over-scrupulous nature. 

Thirst for knowledge stimulated Spinoza to ven- 
ture beyond the limited circle of studies pursued in 
Morteira's lecture-room. He plunged into the 
writings of older Jewish thinkers, three of whom 
alike attracted and repelled him : Ibn-Ezra with his 
free-thinking and his reticence, Moses Maimuni with 
his artificial system, aiming at the reconciliation of 
faith and science, of Judaism and philosophy, and 
Chasdai Crescas with his hostility to traditional phil- 
osophy. Spinoza was also at home in the Kabbala, 
the main doctrines of which had been rendered ac- 
cessible through Abraham de Herrera and Isaac 
Aboab. These various elements heaved and fer- 
mented in his mind, which strove for insight, and 
excited in his breast tormenting doubts, to which 
Ibn-Ezra's covert unbelief mainly contributed. A 
youth of fifteen, Spinoza is said to have expressed 
his doubts in the form of questions to his master 
Morteira, which may have not a little perplexed a 
rabbi accustomed -to beaten tracks. To these ele- 
ments of scepticism, conveyed to him from Jewish 
literature, others were added from without. Spinoza 
learned Latin, in itself nothing remarkable, since, as 
has been remarked, nearly all the Jewish youths of 
Amsterdam, as well as Christians of the educated 
classes of Holland, regarded that language as a 
means of culture. But he was not contented with 
superficial knowledge ; he desired to drink deep of 
classical literature. He sought the instruction of an 
eminent philologist of his time, Dr. Franz van den 


Enden, who lectured in Amsterdam to noble youths, 
native and foreign. Here he learned, in contact 
with educated Christian youths, to adopt a different 
point of view from that which obtained in Morteira's 
lecture-room and in Jewish circles. Van den Enden 
also strongly influenced his mind. Though not an 
atheist, he was a man of sceptical and satirical vein, 
who turned religious custorris and prejudices to ridi- 
cule, and exposed their weaknesses. But what 
with him was the object of humor and wit, excited 
Spinoza's susceptible and analytical mind to deep 
reflection and meditation. The natural sciences, 
mathematics, and physics, which he pursued with 
devotion, and the new-born, imposing philosophy of 
Descartes (Cartesius), for which his mind had 
special affinity, extended his circle of vision and 
enlightened his judgment. The more he imbibed 
ideas from various sources, assimilating them with 
those innate in him, and the more his logical under- 
standing developed, the more did he become alien- 
ated from Judaism, in its Rabbinical and Kabbalistic 
trappings, and love of Van den Enden's learned 
daughter was not needed to make him a pervert 
from Jewish belief. 

Independent, judicial reason, which disregards 
what is traditional or hallowed by time, and follows 
its own laws, was his mistress. To her he dedicated 
pure, undivided worship, and she led him to break 
with inherited views. All that cannot be justified 
before the inexorable tribunal of clear human vision, 
passed with him for superstition and clouded 
thought, if not actual frenzy. His ardent desire for 
truth, pure truth and certainty, led him to a com- 
plete breach with the religion endeared to him from 
childhood ; he not only rejected Talmudical Judaism, 
but also regarded the Bible as the work of man. 
The apparent contradictions in the books of Holy 
Scripture appear to have first raised his doubts as 
to their inspiration. It must have cost him a hard 


struggle to give up the customs and opinions en- 
deared to him through manifold ties, and to become, 
to a certain extent, a new man. For Spinoza was 
quite as much a moral character as a deep thinker. 
To hold anything as false in theory, and yet from 
fear, custom, or advantage to adopt it in practice 
was impossible for him. He was differently consti- 
tuted to his revered master Descartes, who kept 
away from the church the torch of truth which he 
had kindled, made a gap between theory and prac- 
tice to avoid offending that church, and, for example, 
vowed a pilgrimage to -our Lady of Loretto for the 
success of his system and its destructive tendency. 
According to Spinoza's idea every action ought to 
be a true reflection of reason. When he could no 
longer find truth in Judaism, he could not bring him- 
self to follow its ritual precepts. He ceased to at- 
tend the synagogue, cared no longer for the Sabbath 
and the festivals, and broke the laws concerning 
diet. He did not confine himself to the renunciation 
of Judaism, but imparted his convictions to young 
men who sought his instruction. 

The representatives of the community of Amster- 
dam were the more concerned at the daily increas- 
ing report of Spinoza's estrangement from, and 
hostility to Judaism, as they had in a measure looked 
upon the gifted youth as their exponent, and as a 
firm support to the jeopardized religion of their 
fathers. Now it was to be feared that he would 
abandon it, go over to Christianity, and devote his 
intellectual gifts to doing battle against his mother- 
faith. .Could the representatives of that faith, the 
college of rabbis and the secular heads of the 
community, behold with indifference this systematic 
neglect of Judaism in their midst ? Fugitives were 
ever coming from Spain and Portugal, who forfeited 
their high position, and staked life and property, to 
remain true to Judaism, Others with unbending 
attachment to the faith of their fathers, let them- 


selves be dragged to the dark prisons of the In- 
quisition, or with cheerful courage mounted the 
funeral pile. A contemporary writer, an eye- 
witness, reports : 

" In Spain and Portugal there are monasteries and convents full of 
Jews. Not a few conceal Judaism in their heart and feign Christian- 
ity on account of worldly goods. Some of these feel the stings of 
conscience and escape, if they are able. In this city (Amsterdam) 
and in several other places, we have monks, Augustinians, Francis- 
cans, Jesuits, Dominicans, who have rejected idolatry. There are 
bishops in Spain and grave monks, whose parents, brothers, or sisters, 
dwell here (in Amsterdam; and in other cities in order to be able to 
profess Judaism." 

At the very time when Spinoza became estranged 
from Judaism, the smoke and flames of the funeral 
piles of Jewish martyrs rose in several cities of Spain 
and Portugal, in Cuenca, Granada, Santiago de 
Compostela, Cordova, and Lisbon. 

In the last-named city a distinguished Marrano, 
Manuel Fernando de Villa-Real, statesman, poli- 
tical writer, and poet, who conducted the consular 
affairs of the Portuguese court at Paris, returned to 
Lisbon on business, was seized by the Inquisition, ' 
gagged, and led to execution (December i, 1652). 
In Cuenca on one day (June 29, 1654) fifty-seven 
Christian proselytes to Judaism were dragged to the 
auto-da-fe. Most of them only received corporal 
chastisement with loss of property, but ten 
were burned to death. Amongst them was a dis- 
tinguished man, the court-saddler Balthasar Lopez, 
from Valladolid, who had amassed a fortune of 
100,000 ducats. He had migrated to Bayonne, 
where a small community of former Marranos was 
tolerated, and had 'returned to Spain only to per- 
suade a nephew to come back to Judaism. He was 
seized by the Inquisition, tortured, and condemned 
to death by the halter and the stake. On his way 
to the scaffold, Balthasar Lopez ridiculed the In- 
quisition and Christianity. He exclaimed to the 
executioner about to bind him, " I do not believe in 
your Christ,. even if you bind me," and threw the 


cross which had been forced upon him to the ground. 
Five months later twelve Marranos were burnt in 
Granada. Again, some months later (March, 1655), 
a promising youth of twenty, Marcos da Almeyda 
Bernal, whose Jewish name was Isaac, died at the 
stake ; and two months afterwards (May 3d) Abra- 
ham Nunes Bernal was burnt at Cordova. 

Whoever in the community of Amsterdam could 
compose verses in Spanish, Portuguese, or Latin, 
sang or bewailed the martyrdom of the two Bernals. 
Was Spinoza's view correct that all these martyrs, 
and the thousands of Jewish victims still hounded by 
the Inquisition, pursued a delusion ? Could the rep- 
resentatives of Judaism allow unreproved, in their 
immediate neighborhood, the promulgation of the 
idea that Judaism is merely an antiquated error ? 

The college of rabbis, in which sat the two chief 
Chachams, Saul Morteira and Isaac Aboab Manas- 
seh ben Israel was then living in London had 
ascertained the fact of Spinoza's change of opinion, 
and had collected evidence. It was not easy to 
accuse him of apostasy, as he did not proclaim his 
thoughts aloud in the market-place, as Uriel da 
Costa had announced his breach with Judaism. 
Besides, he led a quiet, self-contained life, and asso- 
ciated little with men. His avoidance of the syna- 
gogue, the first thing probably to attract notice, 
could not form the subject of a Rabbinical accusation. 
It is possible that, as is related, two of his fellow- 
students (one, perhaps, the sly Isaac Naar) thrust 
themselves upon him, drew him out, and accused 
him of unbelief, and contempt for Judaism. Spinoza 
was summoned, tried, and admonished to return to 
his former course of life. The court of rabbis did 
not at first proceed with severity against him, for he 
was a favorite of his teacher, and beloved in the 
community on account of his modest bearing and 
moral behavior. By virfue of the firmness of his 
character Spinoza probably made no sort of conces- 


sion, but insisted upon freedom of thought and con- 
duct. Without doubt he was, in consequence, laid 
under the lesser excommunication, that is, close inter- 
course with him was forbidden for thirty days. This 
probably caused less pain to Spinoza, who, self- 
centred, found sufficient resource in his rich world 
of thought, than to the superficial Da Costa. Also, 
he was not without Christian friends, and he, there- 
fore, made no alteration in his manner of life. This 
firmness was naturally construed as obstinacy 
and defiance. But the rabbinate, as well as the 
secular authorities of the community did not wish 
to exert the rigor of the Rabbinical law against him, 
in order not to drive him to an extreme measure, 
i. ., into the arms of the Church. What harm might 
not the conversion to Christianity of so remarkable 
a youth entail in a newly- founded community, con- 
sisting of Jews with Christian reminiscences ! What 
impression would it make on the Marranos in Spain 
and Portugal? Perhaps the scandal caused by Da 
Costa' s excommunication, still fresh in men's memo- 
ries, may have rendered a repetition impracticable. 
The rabbis, therefore, privately offered Spinoza, 
through his friends, a yearly pension of a thousand 
gulden on condition that he take no hostile step 
against Judaism, and show himself from time to time 
in the synagogue. But Spinoza, though young, was 
of so determined a character, that money could not 
entice him to abandon his convictions or to act the 
hypocrite. He insisted that he would not give up 
freedom of inquiry and thought. He continued to 
impart to Jewish youths doctrines undermining 
Judaism. So the tension between him and the rep- 
resentatives of Judaism became daily greater ; both 
sides were right, or imagined they were. A fanatic 
in Amsterdam thought that he could put an end to 
this breach by a dagger- stroke aimed at the dan- 
gerous apostate. He waylaid Spinoza at the exit 
from the theatre, and struck at the philosopher with 


his murderous weapon. But the latter observed the 
hostile movement in time, and avoided the blow, so 
that only his coat was damaged- Spinoza left 
Amsterdam to avoid the danger of assassination, 
and betook himself to the house of a friend, likewise 
persecuted by the dominant Calvinistic Church, an 
adherent of the sect of the Rhynsburgians, or Collec- 
tants, who dwelt in a village between Amsterdam 
and Ouderkerk. Reconciliation between Spinoza 
and the synagogue was no longer to be thought of. 
The rabbis and the secular authorities of the com- 
munity pronounced the greater excommunication 
upon him, proclaiming it in the Portuguese language 
on a Thursday, Ab 6th (July 24th), 1656, shortly 
before the fast in memory of the destruction of 
Jerusalem. The sentence was pronounced solemnly 
in the synagogue from the pulpit before the open 
Ark. The sentence was as follows : 

" The council has long had notice of the evil opinions and actions 
of Baruch d'Espinosa, and these are daily increasing in spite of efforts 
to reclaim him. In particular, he teaches and proclaims dreadful 
heresy, of which credible witnesses are present, who have made their 
depositions in presence of the accused." 

All this, they continued, had been proved in the 
presence of the elders, and the council had resolved 
to place him under the ban, and excommunicate him. 

The usual curses were pronounced upon him in 
presence of scrolls of the Law, and finally the coun- 
cil forbade anyone to have intercourse with him, 
verbally or by writing, to do him any service, to 
abide under the same roof with him, or to come 
within the space of four cubits' distance from him, ot 
to read his writings. Contrary to wont, the ban 
against Spinoza was stringently enforced, to keep 
young people from his heresies. 

Spinoza was away from Amsterdam, when the 
ban was hurled against him. He is said to have re- 
ceived the news with indifference, and to have 
remarked that he was now compelled to do what he 


would otherwise have done without compulsion. 
His philosophic nature, which loved solitude, could 
easily dispense with intercourse with relatives and 
former friends. Yet the matter did not end for him 
there. The representative body of the Portuguese 
community appealed to the municipal authorities to 
effect his perpetual banishment from Amsterdam. 
The magistrates referred the question, really a theo- 
logical one, to the clergy, and the latter are said 
to have proposed his withdrawal from Amsterdam 
for some months. Most probably this procedure 
prompted him to elaborate a justificatory pamphlet 
to show the civil authorities that he was no violator 
or transgressor of the laws of the state, but that he 
had exercised his just rights, when he reflected on 
the religion of his forefathers and religion generally, 
and thought out new views. The chain of reasoning 
suggested to Spinoza in the preparation of his de- 
fense caused him doubtless to give wider extension 
and bearing to this question. It gave him the op- 
portunity to treat of freedom of thought and inquiry 
generally, and so to lay the foundation of the first 
of his suggestive writings, which have conferred 
upon him literary immortality. In the village to 
which he had withdrawn, 1656-60, and later in 
Rhynsburg, where he also spent several years, 
1660-64, Spinoza occupied himself (while polishing 
lenses, which handicraft he had learned to secure his 
moderate subsistence) with the Cartesian philosophy 
and the elaboration of the work entitled " The Theo- 
logico-Political Treatise." His prime object was to 
spread the conviction that freedom of thought can 
be permitted without prejudice to religion and the 
peace of the state ; furthermore, that it must be per- 
mitted, for if it were forbidden, religion and peace 
could not exist in the state. 

The apology for freedom of thought had been 
rendered harder rather than easier for Spinoza, by 
the subsidiary ideas with which he crossed the main 


lines of his system. He could not philosophically 
find the source of law, and transferred its origin to 
might. Neither God, nor man's conscience, accord- 
ing to Spinoza, is the fountain of the eternal law 
which rules and civilizes mankind ; it springs from 
the whole lower natural world. He made men to a 
certain extent "like the fishes of the sea, like creep- 
ing things, which have no master." Large fish have 
the right, not only to drink water, but also to devour 
smaller fish, because they have the power to do so ; 
the sphere of right of the individual man extends as 
far as his sphere of might. This natural right does 
not recognize the difference between good and evil, 
virtue and vice, submission and force. But because 
such unlimited assertion on the part of each must 
lead to a perpetual state of war of all against^ all, 
men have tacitly, from fear, or hope, or reason, given 
up their unlimited privileges to a collective body, the 
state. Out of two evils on the one hand, the full 
possession of their sphere of right and might, tend- 
ing to mutual destruction, and its alienation, on the 
other men have chosen the latter as the lesser 
evil. The state, whether represented by a supreme 
authority elected for the purpose, such as the Dutch 
States General, or by a despot, is the full possessor 
of the rights of all, because of the power of all. 
Every one is bound by his own interest to uncondi- 
tional obedience, even if he should be commanded 
to deprive others of life ; resistance is not only pun- 
ishable, but contrary to reason. This supreme 
power is not controlled by any law. Whether ex- 
ercised by an individual, as in a monarchy, or by sev- 
eral, as in a republic, it is justified in doing every- 
thing, and can do no wrong. But the state has 
supreme right not merely over actions of a civil na- 
ture, but also over spiritual and religious views ; it 
could not exist, if everyone were at liberty to attack 
it under the pretext of religion. The government 
alone has the right to control religious affairs, and 



to define belief, unbelief, orthodoxy, and heresy. 
What a tyrannical conclusion ! As this theory of 
Spinoza fails to recognize moral law, so it ignores 
steadfast fidelity. As soon as the government 
grows weak, it no longer has claim to obedience ; 
everyone may renounce and resist it, to submit him- 
self to the incoming power. According to this 
theory of civil and religious despotism, no one may 
have an opinion about the laws of the state, other- 
wise he^ is a rebel. Spinoza's theory almost does 
away with freedom, even of thought and opinion. 
Whoever speaks against a state ordinance in a 
fault-finding spirit, or to throw odium upon the gov- 
ernment, or seeks to repeal a law against its express 
wish, should be regarded as a disturber of the public 
peace. Only through a sophistical quibble was 
Spinoza able to save freedom of thought and free 
expression of opinion. Every man has this right by 
nature, the only one which he has not transferred 
to the state, because it is essentially inalienable. It 
must be conceded to everyone to think and judge 
in opposition to the opinion of the government, even 
to speak and teach, provided this be done with 
reason and reflection, without fraud, anger, or 
malice, and without the intention of causing a revo- 

On this weak basis, supported by a few other sec- 
ondary considerations, Spinoza justified his conflict 
with Judaism and his philosophical attacks upon the 
sacred writings recognized by the Dutch States. 
He thought that he had succeeded in justifying him- 
self before the magistrates sufficiently by his defense 
of freedom of thought. In the formulation of this 
apology it was apparent that he was not indifferent 
to the treatment which he had experienced from the 
college of rabbis. Spinoza was so filled with dis- 
pleasure, if not with hatred, of Jews and Judaism, 
that his otherwise clear judgment was biased. He, 
like Da Costa, called the rabbis nothing but Phari- 


sees, and imputed to them ambitious and degraded 
motives, while they wished only to secure their 
treasured beliefs against attacks. Prouder even 
than his contemporaries, the French and English 
philosophers, of freedom of thought, for centuries 
repressed by the church, and now soaring aloft the 
more powerfully, Spinoza summoned theology, in 
particular, ancient Judaism before the throne of 
reason, examined its dogmas and archives, and pro- 
nounced sentence of condemnation upon his mother- 
faith. He had erected a tower of thought in his 
brain from which, as it were, he wished to storm 
heaven. Spinoza's philosophy is like a fine net, laid 
before our eyes, mesh by mesh, by which the human 
understanding is unexpectedly ensnared, so that 
half voluntarily, half compulsorily, it surrenders. 
Spinoza recognized, as no thinker before, those 
universal laws, immutable as iron, which are appar- 
ent in the development of the most insignificant 
grain of seed no less than in the revolution of the 
heavenly bodies, in the precision of mathematical 
thought as in the apparent irregularity of human 
passions. Whilst these laws work with constant 
uniformity, and produce the same causes and the 
same phenomena in endless succession, the instru- 
ments of law are perishable things, creatures of a 
day, which rise, and vanish to give place to others : 
here eternity, there temporality; on the one side 
necessity, on the other chance ; here reality, there 
delusive appearances. These and other enigmas 
Spinoza sought to solve with the penetration that 
betrays the son of the Talmud, and with logical con- 
secutiveness and masterly arrangement, for which 
Aristotle might have envied him. 

The whole universe, all individual things, and 
their active powers are, according to Spinoza, not 
merely from God, but of God ; they constitute the 
infinite succession of forms in which God reveals 
Himself, through which He eternally works accord- 


ing- to His eternal nature the soul, as it were, of 
thinking bodies, the body of the soul extended in 
space. God is the indwelling, not the external 
efficient cause of all things ; all is in God and moves 
in God. God as creator and generator of all things 
is generative or self-producing nature. The whole 
of nature is animate, and ideas, as bodies, move in 
eternity on lines running parallel to or intersecting 
one another. Though the fullness of things which 
have proceeded from God and which exist in Him 
are not of an eternal, but of a perishable nature, yet 
they are not limited or defined by chance, but by the 
necessity of the divine nature, each in its own way 
existing or acting within its smaller or larger sphere. 
The eternal and constant nature of God works in 
them through the eternal laws communicated to 
them. ^ Things could, therefore, not be constituted 
otherwise than they are ; for they are the manifest- 
ations, entering into existence in an eternal stream, 
of God in the intimate connection of thought and 

What is man's place in this logical system ? How 
is he to act and work ? Even he, with all his great- 
ness and littleness, his strength and weakness, his 
heaven-aspiring mind, and his body subject to the 
need of sustenance, is nothing more than a form of 
existence (Modus]) of God. Man after man, genera- 
tion after generation, springs up and perishes, flows 
away like a drop in a perpetual stream, but his 
nature, the laws by which he moves bodily and men- 
tally in the peculiar connection of mind and matter, 
reflect the Divine Being. Especially the human 
mind, or rather the various modes of thought, the 
feelings and conceptions of all men, form the eternal 
reason of God. But man is as little free as things, 
as the stone which rolls down from the mountain ; 
he has to obey the causes which influence him from 
within and without. Each of his actions is the pro- 
duct of an infinite series of causes and effects, which 


he can scarcely discern, much less control and 
alter at will. The good man and the bad, the martyr 
who sacrifices himself for a noble object, as well^as 
the execrable villain and the murderer, are all like 
clay in the hands of God ; they act, the one well, the 
other ill, compelled by their inner nature. They all 
act from rigid necessity. No man can reproach 
God for having given him a weak nature or a 
clouded intellect, as it would be irrational if a circle 
should complain that God has not given it the nature 
and properties of the sphere, It is not the lot of 
every man to be strong-minded, and it lies as little 
in his power to have a sound mind as a sound body. 
On one side man is, to a certain extent, free, or 
rather some men of special mental endowments can 
free themselves a little from the pressure exercised 
upon them. Man is a slave chiefly through his 
t passions. Love, hate, anger, thirst for glory, avarice, 
* make him the slave of the external world. These 
passions spring from the perplexity of the soul, which 
thinks it can control things, but wears itself out, so 
to speak, against their obstinate resistance, and 
suffers pain thereby. The better the soul suc- 
ceeds in comprehending the succession of causes 
and effects and the necessity of phenomena in the 
plan of the universe, the better able is it to change 
pain into a sense of comfort. Through higher 
insight, man, if he allows himself to be led by reason, 
can acquire strength of soul, and feel increased love 
to God, that is, to the eternal whole. On the one 
hand, this secures nobility of mind to aid men and 
to win them by mildness and benevolence; and 
creates, on the other, satisfaction, joy, and happiness. 
He who is gifted with highest knowledge lives in 
God, and God in him. Knowledge is virtue, as 
ignorance is, to a certain extent, vice. Whilst the 
wise man, or strictly speaking, the philosopher, 
thanks to his higher insight and his love of God, 
enjoys tranquillity of soul, the man of clouded intel- 


lect, who abandons himself to the madness of his 
passions, must dispense with this joyousness, and 
often perishes in consequence. The highest virtue, 
according to Spinoza's system, is self-renunciation 
through knowledge, keeping in a state of passive- 
ness, coming as little as possible in contact with the 
crushing machinery offerees avoiding them if they 
come near, or submitting to them if their wild career 
overthrows the individual. But as he who is beset 
by desires deserves no blame, so no praise is due 
the wise man who practices self-renunciation ; both 
follow the law of their nature. Higher knowledge 
and wisdom cannot be attained if the conditions 
are wanting, namely, a mind susceptible of know- 
ledge and truth, which one can neither give himself, 
nor throw off. Man has thus no final aim, any more 
than the eternal substance. 

Spinoza's moral doctrines ethics in the narrower 
sense are just as unfruitful as his political theories. 
In either case, he recognizes submission as the only 
rational course, 

With this conception of God and moral action, it 
cannot surprise us that Judaism found no favor in 
Spinoza's eyes. Judaism lays down directly op- 
posite principles beckons man to a high, self- 
reliant task, and proclaims aloud the progress of 
mankind in simple service of God, holiness, and 
victory over violence, the sword, and degrading war. 
This progress has been furthered in many ways by 
Judaism in the course of ages. Wanting, as Spinoza 
was, in apprehension of historical events, more won- 
derful than the phenomena of nature, and unable as 
he therefore was to accord to Judaism special impor- 
tance, he misconceived it still further through his 
bitterness against the Amsterdam college of rabbis, 
who pardonably enough, had excommunicated him. 
Spinoza transferred his bitterness against the com- 
munity to the whole Jewish race and to Judaism. 
As has been already said, he called the rabbis 


Pharisees in his " Theologico-Political Treatise "and 
in letters to his friends, and gave the most invidious 
meaning to this word. To Christianity, on the 
contrary, Spinoza conceded great excellencies ; he 
regarded Judaism with displeasure, therefore, de- 
tected deficiencies and absurdities everywhere, while 
he cast a benevolent eye upon Christianity, and 
overlooked its weaknesses. Spinoza, therefore, with 
all the instinct for truth which characterized him, 
formed a conception of Judaism which, in some 
degree just, was, in many points, perverse and de- 
fective. Clear as his mind was in metaphysical 
inquiries, it was dark and confused on historical 
ground. To depreciate Judaism, Spinoza declared 
that the books of Holy Scripture contain scribes' 
errors, interpolations, and disfigurements, and are 
not, as a rule, the work of the authors to whom they 
are ascribed not even the Pentateuch, the original 
source of Judaism. Ezra, perhaps, first collected 
and arranged it after the Babylonian exile. The 
genuine writings of Moses are no longer extant, 
not even the Ten Commandments being in their 
original form. Nevertheless, Spinoza accepted 
every word in the Bible as a kind of revelation, and 
designated all persons who figure in it as prophets. 
He conceded, on the ground of Scripture, that the 
revelation of the prophets was authenticated by 
visible signs. Nevertheless, he very much under- 
rated this revelation. Moses, the prophets, and all 
the higher personages of the Bible had only a con- 
fused notion of God, nature, and living beings ; they 
were not philosophers, they did not avail themselves 
of the natural light of reason. Jesus stood higher ; 
he taught not only a nation, but the whole of man- 
kind on rational grounds. The Apostles, too, were 
to be set higher than the prophets, since they intro- 
duced a natural method of instruction, and worked 
not merely through signs, but also through rational 
conviction. As though the main effort of the Apos- 


ties, to which their whole zeal was devoted, viz., to 
reach belief in the miraculous resurrection of Jesus, 
were consistent with reason ! It was only Spinoza's 
bitterness against Jews which caused him to depre- 
ciate their spiritual property and overrate Chris- 
tianity. His sober intellect, penetrating to the 
eternal connection of things and events, could not 
accept miracles, but those of the New Testament 
he judged mildly. 

In spite of his condemnatory verdict on Judaism, 
he was struck by two phenomena, which he did not 
fully understand, and which, therefore, he judged only 
superficially according to his system. These were 
the moral greatness of the prophets, and the super- 
iority of the Israelite state, which in a measure de- 
pend on each other. Without understanding the 
political organization, in which natural and moral 
laws, necessity and freedom work together, Spinoza 
explains the origin of the Jewish state, that is, of 
Judaism, in the following manner : When the Israel- 
ites, after deliverance from slavery in Egypt, were 
free from all political bondage, and restored to their 
natural rights, they willingly chose God as their 
Lord, and transferred their rights to Him alone by 
formal contract and alliance. That there be no ap- 
pearance of fraud on the divine side, God permitted 
them to recognize His marvelous power, by virtue 
of which He had hitherto preserved, and promised 
in future to preserve them, that is, He revealed 
Himself to them in His glory on Sinai ; thus God 
became the King of Israel and the state a theo- 
cracy. Religious opinions and truths, therefore, had 
a legal character in this state, religion and civic right 
coincided. Whoever revolted from religion forfeited 
his rights as a citizen, and whoever died for religion 
was a patriot. Pure democratic equality, the right 
of all to entreat God and interpret the laws, pre- 
vailed among the Israelites. But when, in the over- 
powering bewilderment of the revelation from Sinai, 


they voluntarily asked Moses to receive the laws 
from God and to interpret them, they renounced 
their equality, and transferred their rights to Moses. 
Moses from that time became God's representative. 
Hence, he promulgated laws suited to the condition 
of the people at that time, and introduced cere- 
monies to remind them always of the Law and keep 
them from willfulness, so that in accordance with a 
definite precept they should plough, sow, eat, clothe 
themselves, in a word, do everything according to 
the precepts of the Law. Above all, he provided 
that they might not act from childish or slavish fear, 
but from reverence for God. He bound them by 
benefits, and promised them earthly prosperity all 
through the power and by the command of God. 
Moses was vested with spiritual and civil power, and 
authorized to transmit both. He preferred to trans- 
fer the civil power to his disciple Joshua in full, but 
not as a heritage, and the spiritual power to his 
brother Aaron as a heritage, but limited by the civil 
ruler, and not accompanied by a grant of territory. 
After the death of Moses the Jewish state was 
neither a monarchy, nor an aristocracy, nor a 
democracy ; it remained a theocracy. The family 
of the high-priest was God's interpreter, and the 
civil power, after Joshua's death, fell to single tribes 
or their chiefs. 

This constitution offered many advantages. The 
civil rulers could not turn the law to their own 
advantage, nor oppress the people, for the Law was 
the province of the sacerdotal order the sons of 
Aaron and the Levites. Besides, the people were 
made acquainted with the Law through the pre- 
scribed reading at the close of the Sabbatical year, 
and would not have passed over with indifference 
any willful transgression of the law of the state. 
The army was composed of native militia, while 
foreigners, that is, mercenaries, were excluded. 
Thus the rulers were prevented from oppressing 


the people or waging war arbitrarily. The tribes 
were united by religion, and the oppression of 
one tribe by its ruler would have been punished 
by the rest. The princes were not placed at the 
head through rank or privilege of blood, but through 
capacity and merit. Finally, the institution of 
prophets proved very wholesome. Since the con- 
stitution was theocratical, every one of blameless 
life was able through certain signs to represent him- 
self as a prophet like Moses, draw the oppressed 
people to him in the name of God, and oppose the 
tyranny of the rulers. This peculiar constitution 
produced in the heart of the Israelites an especial 
patriotism, which was at the same time a religion, so 
that no one would betray it, leave God's kingdom, 
or swear allegiance to a foreigner. This love, 
coupled with hatred against other nations, and fos- 
tered by daily worship of God, became second nature 
to the Israelites, It strengthened them to endure 
everything for their country with steadfastness and 
courage. This constitution offered a further advan- 
tage, because the land was equally divided, and no 
one could be permanently deprived of his portion 
through poverty, as restitution had to be made in the 
year of jubilee. 

Hence, there was little poverty, or such only as 
was endurable, for the love of one's neighbor had to 
be exercised with the greatest conscientiousness to 
keep the favor of God, the King. Finally, a large 
space was accorded to gladness. Thrice a year and 
on other occasions the people were to assemble at 
festivals, not to revel in sensual enjoyments, but to 
accustom themselves to follow God gladly; for 
there is no more effectual means of guiding the 
hearts of men than the joy which arises from love 
and admiration. 

After Spinoza had depicted Israel's theocracy 
quite as a pattern for all states, he was apparently 
startled at having imparted so much light to the 


picture, and he looked around for shade. Instead 
of answering in a purely historical manner the ques- 
tions, whence it came that the Hebrews were so 
often subdued, and why their state was entirely de- 
stroyed ; instead of indicating that these wholesome 
laws remained a never realized ideal, Spinoza sug- 
gests a sophistic solution. Because God did not 
wish to make Israel's dominion lasting, he gave bad 
laws and statutes. Spinoza supports this view by a 
verse which he misunderstood. These bad laws, 
rebellion against the sacerdotal state, coupled with 
bad morals, produced discontent, revolt, and insur- 
rection. At last matters went so far, that instead 
of the Divine King, the Israelites chose a human 
one, and instead of the temple, a court. Monarchy, 
however, only increased the disorder ; it could not 
endure the state within the state, the high-priest- 
hood, and lowered the dignity of the latter by the 
introduction of strange worship. The prophets 
could avail nothing, because they only declaimed 
against the tyrants, but could not remove the cause 
of the evils. All things combined brought on the 
destruction of the divine state. ' With its destruc- 
tion by the Babylonian king, the natural rights of 
the Israelites were transferred to the conqueror, and 
they were bound to obey him and his successors, as 
they had obeyed God. All the laws of Judaism, 
nay, the whole of Judaism, was thereby abolished, 
and no longer had any significance. This was the 
result of Spinoza's inquiry in his "Theologico- 
Political Treatise." Judaism had a brilliant past, 
God concluded an alliance with the people, showed 
to them His exalted power, and gave them excel- 
lent laws ; but He did not intend Israel's preemi- 
nence to be permanent, therefore He also gave bad 
laws. Consequently, Judaism reached its end more 
than two thousand years ago, and yet it continued 
its existence ! Wonderful ! Spinoza found the 
history of Israel and the constitution of the state 



excellent during the barbarism of the period of the 
Judges, while the brilliant epochs of David and Sol- 
omon and of King Uzziah remained inexplicable to 
him. And, above all, the era of the second Temple, 
the Maccabean epoch, when the Jewish nation rose 
from shameful degradation to a brilliant height, and 
brought the heathen world itself to worship the one 
God and adopt a moral life, remained to Spinoza an 
insoluble riddle. This shows that his whole dem- 
onstration and his analysis (schematism) cannot 
stand the test of criticism, but rests on false 

Spinoza might have brought Judaism into extreme 
peril ; for he not only furnished its opponents with the 
weapons of reason to combat Judaism more effect- 
ually, but also conceded to every state and magis- 
trate the right to suppress it and use force against 
its followers, to which they ought meekly to submit. 
The funeral piles of the Inquisition for Marranos 
were, according to Spinoza's system, doubly justified; 
citizens have no right on rational grounds to resist 
the recognized religion of the state, and it is folly to 
profess Judaism and to sacrifice oneself for it. But 
a peculiar trait of Spinoza's character stood Judaism 
in good stead. He loved peace and quiet too well 
to become a propagandist for his critical principles. 
"To be peaceable and peaceful" was his ideal; 
avoidance of conflict and opposition was at once his 
strength and his weakness. To his life's end he led 
an ideally-philosophical life ; for food, clothing, and 
shelter, he needed only so much as he could earn 
with his handicraft of polishing lenses, which his 
friends disposed of. He struggled against accept- 
ing a pension, customarily bestowed on learned men 
at that time, even from his sincere and rich admirers, 
Simon de Vries and the grand pensionary De Witt, 
that he might not fall into dependence, constraint, 
and disquiet. By reason of this invincible desire for 
philosophic calm and freedom from care, he would 


not decide in favor of either of the political parties, 
then setting the States General in feverish agitation. 
Not even the exciting murder of his friend John de 
Witt was able to hurry him into partisanship. Spi- 
noza bewailed his high and noble friend, but did not 
defend his honor, to clear it of suspicion. When the 
most highly cultivated German prince of his time, 
Count-Palatine Karl Ludwig, who cherished a cer- 
tain affection for Jews, offered him, " the Protestant 
Jew/' as he was still called, the chair of philosophy 
in the University of Heidelberg under very favor- 
able conditions, Spinoza declined the offer. He did 
not conceal his reason : he would not surrender his 
quietude. From this predominant tendency, or, 
rather, from fear of disturbance and inconveniences 
and from apprehension of calling enemies down 
upon him, or of coming into collision with the state, 
he refused to publish his speculations for a long time. 
When at last he resolved, on the pressure of friends, 
to send " The Theologico-Political Treatise " to 
press, he did not put his name to the work, which 
made an epoch in literature, and even caused 
a false place of publication, viz., Hamburg, to be 
printed on the title-page, in order to obliterate every 
trace of its real authorship. He almost denied his 
offspring, to avoid being disturbed. 

As might have been foreseen, the appearance of 
"The Theologico-Political Treatise" (1670), made 
an extraordinary stir. No one had written so dis- 
tinctly and incisively concerning the relation of 
religion to philosophy and the power of the state, 
and, above all, had so sharply condemned the clergy. 
The ministers of all denominations were extraordi- . 
narily excited against this "godless" book, as it 
was called, which disparaged revealed religion. Spi- 
noza's influential friends were not able to protect it ; 
it was condemned by a decree of the States General, 
and forbidden to be sold which only caused it to 
be read more eagerly. But Spinoza was the more 


reluctant to publish his other writings, especially his 
philosophical system. With all his strength of 
character, he did not belong to those bold spirits, 
who undertake to be the pioneers of truth, who usher 
it into the world with loud voice, and win it adher- 
ents, unconcerned as to whether they may have to 
endure bloody or bloodless martyrdom. In the un- 
selfishness of Spinoza's character and system there 
lurked an element of selfishness, namely, the desire 
to be disturbed as little as possible in the attain- 
ment of knowledge, in the happiness of contempla- 
tion, and in reflection upon the universe and the 
chain of causes and effects which prevail in it. A 
challenge to action, effort, and resistance to opposi- 
tion lay neither in Spinoza's temper, nor in his 

In this apparently harmless feature lay also the 
reason that his most powerful and vehemently con- 
ducted attacks upon Judaism made no deep impres- 
sion, and called forth no great commotion in the 
Jewish world. At the time when Spinoza threw 
down the challenge to Judaism, a degree of culture 
and science prevailed in the Jewish-Portuguese 
circle, unkown either before or after ; there reigned 
in the community of Amsterdam and its colonies a 
literary activity and fecundity, which might be called 
classical, if the merit of the literary productions had 
corresponded with their compass. The authors 
were chiefly cultivated Marranos, who had escaped 
from the Spanish or Portuguese prisons of the In- 
quisition to devote themselves in free Holland to their 
faith and free inquiry. There were philosophers, 
physicians, mathematicians, philologists, poets, even 
poetesses. Many of these Marranos who escaped 
to Amsterdam had gone through peculiar vicissitudes. 
A monk of Valencia, Fray Vincent de Rocamora 
(1601-1684), had been eminent in Catholic theol- 
ogy. He had been made confessor to the Infanta 
Maria, afterwards empress of Germany and a per- 


secutor of the Jews. One day the confessor fled 
from Spain, reached Amsterdam, declared himself 
as Isaac de Rocamora, studied medicine at the age 
of forty, and became the happy father of a family 
and president of Jewish benevolent institutions. 
The quondam monk, afterwards Parnass (president 
of the community), was also a good poet, and wrote 
admirable Spanish and Latin verses. 

Enrique Enriquez de Paz of Segovia (1600-1660), 
the Jewish Calderon, had a very different career. 
Having entered the army while young, he behaved 
so gallantly that he won the order of San Miguel, 
and was made captain. Besides the sword, he 
wielded the pen, with which he described comic fig- 
ures and situations. Enriquez de Paz, or, as he 
was styled in his poetical capacity, Antonio Enri- 
quez de Gomez, composed more than two and 
twenty comedies, some of which were put upon the 
stage at Madrid, and, being taken for Calderon's pro- 
ductions, were received with much applause. Neither 
Mars nor the Muses succeeded in protecting him 
against the Inquisition ; he could escape its clutches 
only by rapid flight. He lived a long time in France. 
His prolific muse celebrated Louis XIV, the queen 
of France, the powerful statesman Richelieu, and 
other high personages of the court. He bewailed 
in elegies his misfortunes and the loss of his country, 
which he loved like a son, step-mother though she 
had been to him. Although blessed by fortune, 
Enriquez de Paz felt himself unhappy in the rude 
north, far from the blue mountains and mild air of 
Spain. He lamented : 

" I have won for myself wealth and traveled over many seas, and 
heaped up ever fresh treasures by thousands ; now my hair is 
bleached, my beard as snowy white as my silver bars, the reward of 
my labors." 

He lived in France, too, as a Christian, but pro- 
claimed his sympathy with Judaism by mourning in 
elegiac verses the martyrdom of Lope de Vera y 


Alarcon. Finally he settled down in the asylum of 
the Marranos, whilst his effigy was burnt on the fun- 
eral pile at Seville. There had been again a great 
auto-da-fe (1660) of sixty Marranos, of whom four 
were first strangled and then burned, whilst three 
were burned alive. Effigies of escaped Marranos 
were borne along in procession, and thrown into 
the flames amongst them that of the knight of 
San Miguel, the writer of comedies. A new- 
Christian, who was present at this horrible sight, 
and soon after escaped to Amsterdam, met Gomez 
in the street, and exclaimed excitedly: "Ah! 
Sefior Gomez ! I saw your effigy burn on the 
funeral pile at Seville ! " "Well," he replied, " they 
are welcome to it." Along with his numerous secu- 
lar poems, Enriquez Gomez left one of Jewish 
national interest in celebration of the hero-judge 
Samson. The laurels which the older Spanish 
poet Miguel Silveyra, also a Marrano, whom he 
admired, had won by his epic, " The Maccabee," 
haunted him until he had brought out a companion 
piece. To the blind hero who avenged himself on 
the Philistines by his very death, Gomez assigned 
verses which expressed his own heart : 

41 I die for Thy holy word, for Thy religion, 
For Thy doctrine, Thy hallowed commandments, 
For the nation adopted by Thy choice, 
For Thy sublime ordinance I die.' 1 

Another point of view is presented by two emi- 
grant Marranos of this period, father and son, the 
two Pensos, the one rich in possessions and charity, 
the other in poetical gifts. They probably sprang 
from Espejo, in the province of Cordova, escaped 
from the fury of the Inquisition, and at last settled, 
after many changes of residence, as Jews in Am- 
sterdam. Isaac Penso (died 1683) the elder, a 
banker, was a father to the poor. He spent a tithe 
of the income from his property on the poor, and 
distributed, up to his death, 40,000 gulden. His 


decease aroused deep regret in the community of 
Amsterdam. His son (Felice) Joseph Penso, also 
called De la Vega from his mother's family (1650- 
1703), was a rich merchant, and turned his atten- 
tion to poetry. A youth of seventeen, he awoke 
the long-slumbering echo of neo-Hebraic poesy, 
and caused it to strike its highest note. Joseph 
Penso boldly undertook a most difficult task; he 
composed a Hebrew drama. Since Immanuel 
Romi had written his witty tales in verse, the neo- 
Hebraic muse had been stricken with sterility, for 
which the increasing troubles of the times were not 
alone to blame. Moses da Rieti and the poetic 
school of Salonica composed verses, but did not 
write poetry. Even the greatest of Jewish poets, 
Gebirol and Jehuda Halevi, had produced only lyric 
and didactic poetry, and had not thought of the 
drama. Joseph Penso, inspired by the poetical air 
of Spain, the land of his birth, where Lope de 
Vega's and Calderon's melodious verses were 
heard beside the litany of the monks and the cry of 
the sacrificial victims, transferred Spanish art 
forms to neo-Hebraic poetry. Penso happily imi- 
tated the various kinds of metre and strophe of 
European poetry in the language of David and 

One may not, indeed, apply a severe standard to 
Joseph Penso's drama, but should endeavor to for- 
get that long before him Shakespeare had created 
life-like forms and interests, For, measured by 
these, Penso's dramatic monologue and dialogue 
seem puerile. However free from blame his versi- 
fication is, the invention is poor, the ideas common- 
place. A king who takes a serious view of his re- 
sponsibilities as ruler is led astray, now by his own 
impulses (Yezer), now by a coquette (Isha), now by 
Satan. Three other opposing forces endeavor to 
lead him in the right way his own judgment 
(Sechel), divine inspiration (Hashgacha), and an 


angel, These are the characters in Penso's drama 
I' The Captives of Hope " (Asire ha-Tikwah). But 
if one takes into consideration the object which 
Penso had in view, viz., to hold up a mirror to Mar- 
rano youths settled at Amsterdam, who had been 
used to Spanish licentiousness, and to picture to 
them the high value of a virtuous life, the perform- 
ance of the youthful poet is not to be despised. 
Joseph Penso de la Vega composed a large number 
of verses in Spanish, occasional poetry, moral and 
philosophical reflections, and eulogies on princes. 
His novels, entitled "The Dangerous Courses 
(los Rumbos peligrosos), were popular. 

Marrano poets of mediocre ability were so nu- 
merous at this time in Amsterdam, that one of them, 
the Spanish resident in the Netherlands, Manuel 
Belmonte (Isaac Nunes), appointed count-palatine, 
founded an academy of poetry. Poetical works 
were to be handed in, and as judges he appointed 
the former confessor, De Rocamora, and another 
Marrano, who composed Latin verses, Isaac Gomez 
de Sosa. The latter was so much enraptured of 
Penso's Hebrew drama, that he triumphantly pro- 
claimed, in Latin verse : 

" No w is it at length attained ! The Hebrew Muse strides along- on 
high-heeled buskin safe and sound. With the measured step of 
poetry she is conducted auspiciously by Joseph sprung from that 
race which still is mostly in captivity. Lo ! a clear beam of hope 
shines afresh, that now even the stage may be opened to sacred song. 
Yet why do I praise him ? The poet is celebrated by his own poetry, 
and his own work proclaims the praise of the master." 

Another of the friends of the Jewish dramatist 
was Nicolas de Oliver y Fullana (Daniel Jehuda), 
poet, and colonel in the Spanish service ; he was 
knighted, entered the service of Holland, and was 
an accurate cartographer and cosmographer. There 
was also Joseph Szemach (Sameh) Arias, a man of 
high military rank, who translated into Spanish the 
work of the historian Josephus against Apion, which 
controverted the old prejudices and falsehoods 


against Jews. This polemic was not superfluous 
even at this time. Of the Jewish Marrano poet- 
esses, it will suffice to name the fair and gifted 
Isabel Correa (Rebecca), who twined a wreath of 
various poems, and translated the Italian popular 
drama, " The True Shepherd " (Pastor Fido, by 
Guarini) into beautiful Spanish verse. Isabel was 
the second wife of the poet-warrior, De Oliver y 

Of a far different stamp was the Marrano 
Thomas de Pinedo (Isaac, 1614-1679) of Portugal, 
educated in a Jesuit college at Madrid. He was 
more at home in classical than in Jewish antiquity, 
and applied himself to a branch of study little culti- 
vated in Spain in his time, that of ancient geogra- 
phy. He, too, was driven out of Spain by the In- 
quisition, and deemed himself fortunate to have 
escaped unhurt. The philologist De Pinedo dwelt 
later on in Amsterdam, where he printed his com- 
prehensive work. He composed his own epitaph 
in Latin. 

We must not leave unmentioned a personage 
celebrated at that time perhaps beyond his deserts, 
Jacob Jehuda Leon (Templo, 1603-1671), If not a 
Marrano, he was of Marrano descent, and resided 
first at Middelburg, then at Amsterdam, and was 
more an artist than a man of science. Leon de- 
voted himself to the reproduction of the first Tem- 
ple and its vessels, as they are described in the 
Bible and the Talmud. He executed a model of 
the Temple on a reduced scale (3 yards square, i* 
in height), and added a concise, clear description in 
Spanish and Hebrew. Work of so unusual a char- 
acter attracted extraordinary notice at a time when 
every kind of antiquarian learning, especially bibli- 
cal, was highly prized. The government of Hol- 
land and Zealand gave the author the copyright 
grivilege. Duke August of Brunswick, and his wife 
lizabeth, wished to possess a German translation 


of Leon's description, and commissioned Professor 
John Saubert, of Helmstadt, to undertake it. While 
corresponding with the author so as to ensure 
thoroughness, he was anticipated by another man 
who brought out a German translation at Hanover. 
This circumstance caused great annoyance to Pro- 
fessor Saubert. Templo, as Leon and his posterity 
were surnamed from his work in connection with 
the Temple, engaged in controversies with Chris- 
tian ecclesiastics on Judaism and Christianity, and 
published a translation of the Psalms in Spanish. 

In this cultivated circle of Spinoza's contempora- 
ries were two men who lived alternately at Ham- 
burg and Amsterdam, David Coen de Lara and 
Dionysius Musaphia, both distinguished as philo- 
logists, but not for much besides. With their know- 
ledge of Latin and Greek they explained the dialect 
of the Talmud, and corrected errors which had crept 
into the earlier Talmudical lexicons. David de 
Lara (1610-1674) was also a preacher and writer on 
morals ; but his efforts in that direction are of small 
value. He associated too much with the Hamburg 
preacher, Esdras Edzardus, who was bent on the 
conversion of the Jews. The latter spread the 
false report that De Lara was almost a Christian 
before he died. Dionysius (Benjamin) Musaphia 
(born about 1616, died at Amsterdam, 1676), a phy- 
sician and student of natural science, was up to the 
date of the monarch's death in the service of the 
Danish king Christian IV. He was also a philoso- 
pher, and allowed himself to question various things 
in the Talmud and the Bible. Nevertheless he held 
the office of rabbi at Amsterdam in his old age. 

Much more important than the whole of this cir- 
cle was Balthasar Orobio de Castro (1620-1687). 
He also sprang from Marrano parents, who secretly 
continued to cling to Judaism, in that they abstained 
from food and drink on the Day of Atonement. In 
this meap-er conceotion of Tudaism, Orobio was 


brought up. Endowed with clear intellect, he 
studied the decayed and antiquated philosophy still 
taught in Spanish academies, and became professor 
of metaphysics in the University of Salamanca. 
This fossilized philosophy appears neither to have 
satisfied him nor to have brought him sufficient 
means of subsistence, for he applied himself in riper 
years to the study of medicine. In this pursuit 
Orobio was more successful ; he gained a reputation 
at Seville, was physician to the duke of Medina- 
Celi, and to a family in high favor with the court, 
and amassed considerable wealth. He was a happy 
husband and father, when the Inquisition cast its 
baleful glance upon him. A servant, whom he had 
punished for theft, had informed against him. 
Orobio was seized, accused of Judaism, and thrown 
into a narrow, gloomy dungeon, where he had not 
room to move, and where he spent three years 
(about 1655-1658). 

At first he filled up his time with philosophical 
subtleties, as pursued at the Spanish universities. 
He undertook to defend a thesis, acting at the same 
time in imagination as the opponent, who interposes 
objections, and as the judge,, who sums up and sifts 
the arguments. By degrees his mind grew so per- 

S-'exed that he often asked himself, "Am I really 
on Balthasar Orobio, who went about in the streets 
of Seville, and lived in comfort with his family?" 
His past seemed a dream, and he believed that he 
had been born in prison, and must die there. But 
the tribunal of the Inquisition brought a change into 
his empty dream-life. He was ushered into a dark 
vault, lighted only by a dull lamp. He could hardly 
distinguish the judge, the secretary, and the execu- 
tioner, who were about to deal with his case. Hav- 
ing been again admonished to confess his heresy, 
and having again denied it, the hangman undressed 
him, bound him with cords, which were fastened to 
vr>^Vo in thp wall, brought his body into a swinging 


movement between the ceiling and the floor, and 
drew the cords so tight, that the blood spurted from 
his nails. His feet, moreover, were strongly bound 
to a small ladder, the steps of which were studded 
with spikes. Whilst being tortured, he was fre- 
quently admonished to make confession, and was 
threatened, in case he persisted in denial, with the 
infliction of still more horrible pains, for which, 
though ^ they caused his death, he would have to 
thank his own obstinacy, not the tribunal. However, 
he survived the torture, was taken back to prison 
to allow his wounds to heal, then condemned to 
wear the garb of shame (San Benito), and was finally 
banished from Spain. He betook himself to Tou- 
louse, where he became professor of medicine in the 
university. Although respected in his new position, 
Orobio could not long endure the hypocrisy. He 
went to Amsterdam, publicly professed the Jewish 
religion, and assumed the name of Isaac (about 
1666). No wonder that he became a bitter oppo- 
nent of Christianity, which he had learnt to know 
thoroughly. ^ He became an adherent of Judaism 
from conviction, proved himself a courageous and 
able champion of the religion of his fathers, and 
dealt such powerful blows to Christianity as few 
before him, so that a distinguished Protestant theo- 
logian (Van Lirnborch) felt compelled to reply to 
Orobio's attacks. 

All these cultivated youths and men, the soldier- 
poets Enriquez Gomez, Nicholas de Oliver y 
Fullana, and Joseph Arias, and the writers Joseph 
Penso, Thomas de Pinedo, Jacob Leon, David de 
Lara, and Dionysius Musaphia, knew of Spinoza's 
attacks upon Judaism, and undoubtedly read his 
" Theologico-Political Treatise." Isaac Orobio as- 
sociated with Spinoza. Yet the blows by which 
the latter strove to shake Judaism did not cause 
the former to waver in their convictions. This is 
the more remarkable, as simultaneously, from 


another side, Judaism was covered with shame, or, 
what comes to the same thing, its followers every- 
where in the East and West, with few exceptions, 
became slaves to a delusion which exposed them to 
the ridicule of the world, and enveloped them for 
the first time in the darkness of the Middle Ages. 

Without suspecting it, Spinoza possessed in the 
East an ally, diametrically his opposite, who labored 
to disintegrate Judaism, and succeeded in throwing 
the whole Jewish race into a turmoil, which long 
interfered with its progress. Sabbatai Zevi was at 
once Spinoza's opposite and his ally. He possessed 
many more admirers than the philosopher of Amster- 
dam, became for a space the idol of the Jewish race, 
and has secret adherents even to the present time. 
Sabbatai Zevi (born Ab 9, 1626, died 1676), of 
Smyrna, in Asia Minor, was of Spanish descent, and 
became the originator of a new Messianic frenzy, 
the founder of a new sect. He owed the attach- 
ment which he inspired even as a youth, not to his 
qualities of mind, but to his external appearance and 
attractive manner. He was tall, well formed, had 
fine dark hair, a fine beard, and a pleasant voice, 
which won hearts by speech and still more by song. 
But his mind was befogged by reason of the pre- 
dominance of fancy ; he had an enthusiastic tem- 
perament and an inclination to what was strange, 
especially to solitude. In boyhood Sabbatai Zevi 
avoided the company and games of playmates, 
sought solitary places, and what usually has charms 
for the young did not attract him. He was educated 
by the current method. In early youth he studied 
the Talmud in the school of the veteran Joseph 
Eskapha, a staunch Talmudist of Smyrna, but did 
not attain to great proficiency. The more was 
he attracted by the confused jumble of the Kab- 
bala. Once introduced into the labyrinth of the 
Zohar, he felt himself at home therein, guided by 
Lurya's interpretation. Sabbatai Zevi shared the 


prevailing opinion that the Kabbala can be acquired 
only by means of asceticism. He mortified his body, 
and bathed very frequently in the sea, day and night, 
winter and summer. Perhaps it was from sea-bath- 
ing that his body derived the peculiar fragrance 
which his worshipers strongly maintained that it 
possessed. In early manhood he presented a con- 
trast to his companions because he felt no attraction 
to the female sex. According to custom Sabbatai 
Zevi married early, but avoided his young, good-look- 
ing wife so pertinaciously, that she applied for 
divorce, which he willingly granted her. The same 
thing happened with a second wife. 

This aversion to marriage, rare in the warm 
climate of the East, his assiduous study of the 
Kabbala, and his ascetic life, attracted attention. 
Disciples sought him, and were introduced by him 
to the Kabbala. Twenty years old he was the 
master of a small circle. He attached disciples to 
himself partly by his earnest and retiring manner, 
which precluded familiarity, partly by his musical 
voice, with which he sang in Spanish the Kabbalistic 
verses composed by Lurya or himself. Another 
circumstance must be added. When Sultan Ibrahim 
ascended the throne, a violent war broke out 
between Turkey and Venice, which made the trade 
of the Levant unsafe in the capital. Several Euro- 
pean, that is, Dutch and English, mercantile houses 
in consequence transferred their offices to Smyrna. 
This hitherto insignificant city thereby acquired 
importance as a mart. The Jews of Smyrna, who 
had been poor, profited by this commercial develop- 
ment, and amassed great riches, first as agents of 
large houses, afterwards as independent firms. 
Mordecai Zevi, Sabbatai's father, from the Morea, 
originally poor, became the Smyrna agent of an 
English house, executed its commissions with strict 
honesty, enjoyed the confidence of the principals, 
and became a wealthy man. His increasing pros- 


parity was attributed by the blind father to the 
merit of his Kabbala-loving son, to whom he paid 
such great reverence, that it was communicated to 
strangers. Sabbatai was regarded as a young saint. 
The more discreet, on account of his folly, declared 
him to be mad. In the house of his English prin- 
cipal, Mordecai Zevi often heard the approach of 
the millennium discussed, either he himself or some 
of his people being enthusiastic believers in the 
apocalypse of the Fifth Monarchy. The year 1666 
was designated by these enthusiasts as the Messi- 
anic year, which was to bring renewed splendor to 
the Jews and see their return to Jerusalem. The 
expectations heard in the English counting house 
were communicated by Mordecai Zevi to the mem- 
bers of his family, none of whom listened more atten- 
tively than Sabbatai, already entangled in the maze 
of the Luryan Kabbala, and inclined to mistake 
enthusiastic hopes for prosaic fact. What if he 
himself were called upon to usher in this time of 
redemption? Had he not, at an earlier age than 
any one before, penetrated to the heart of the Kab- 
bala ? And who could be more worthy of this call 
than one deeply immersed in its mysteries ? 

The central point of the later Kabbala was most 
intense expectation of the Messiah ; Lurya, Vital, 
and their disciples and followers proclaimed anew, 
" The kingdom of heaven is at hand." A peculiar 
redemption was to precede and accompany it the 
redemption of the scattered elements of the original 
soul (Nizuzoth) from the fetters of original evil, the 
demon nature (Kelifoth), which, taking a hold on 
men through the fall of the angels or divine 
elements, held them in captivity, impeded their 
upward flight, and necessitated the perpetual trans- 
migration of souls from body to body. As soon as 
the evil spirit was either consumed, annihilated, ren- 
dered powerless, or at least existed by itself with- 
out admixture of the divine, then the Kabbalistic 


order (Olam ha-Tikkun) would prevail, streams of 
mercy would pour forth without let or hindrance 
upon the lower world through the channels of the 
Sefiroth, and fructify and miraculously quicken it. 
This work of redemption can be accomplished by 
every truly pious man (Zaddik), who having an en- 
lightened soul, and being initiated into the Kabbala, 
stands in close union with the world of spirits, com- 
prehends the connection between the upper and 
lower world, and fulfills all religious exercises 
(Kewanoth) with concentrated devotion and with 
due regard to their influence upon the higher pow- 
ers. ^ Still more effectually the Messiah, the son of 
David, will accomplish the annihilation of demoniacal 
powers and the restoration of lost souls, or rather 
the collection of the scattered elements of the uni- 
versal soul of Adam. For to the Messiah, in whom 
dwells a pure, immaculate soul, are unfolded the 
mysterious depths of the higher worlds, essences, 
and divine creation, even the Divine Being Himself. 
The Messiah of the seed of David would, to a cer- 
tain extent, be the original man (Adam Kadmon) 
incarnate, part of the Godhead. 

This Luryan mysticism dazzled the bewildered 
brain of the Smyrna youth, and produced such con- 
fusion and giddiness, that he thought he could easily 
usher in this spiritual redemption, which would be 
immediately followed by that of the body. In what 
manner this haughty wish to play the part of a Mes- 
siah germinates and breaks forth in enthusiastic 
minds, is an impenetrable riddle. Sabbata'i Zevi 
was not the first to believe himself able to reverse 
the whole order of the world, by mystical hocus- 
pocus, and partly to succeed in the endeavor. Cer- 
tain it is that the extravagant notions entertained 
by Jews and Christians with regard to the near ap- 
proach of the time of grace worked upon Sabbatai's 
weak brain. That book of falsehoods, the Zohar, 
declared that in the year of the world 5408 (1648) 


the era of redemption would dawn, and precisely in 
that year Sabbatai revealed himself to his train of 
youthful companions as the Messianic redeemer. 
It happened in an apparently insignificant manner, 
but the mode of revelation was of great import to 
the initiated. Sabbatai Zevi uttered the full four- 
lettered name of God in Hebrew (Jhwh, the Tetra- 
grammaton) without hesitation, although this was 
strictly prohibited in the Talmud and by the usage 
of ages. The Kabbalists attached all sorts of mys- 
tical importance to this prohibition. During the 
dispersion of Israel, the perfection of God Himself 
was to a certain extent destroyed, on account of the 
sinfulness of men and the degradation of the Jewish 
people, since the Deity could not carry out His 
moral plan. The higher and lower worlds were 
divided from each other by a deep gulf; the four 
letters of God's name were parted asunder. With 
the Messianic period of redemption the moral order 
of the world, as God had laid it down in the plan of 
the universe, and the perfection and unity of God 
would be restored. When Sabbatai Zevi permitted 
himself to pronounce the name of God in full, he; 
thereby proclaimed that the time of grace had begun 
with him. 

However, despite his pious, mystical life, he had 
too little authority at the age of two and twenty for 
the rabbis to allow an infraction of the existing 
order of things, which might lead to further inroads. 
When Zevi's pretensions became known some years 
later, the college of rabbis, at their head his teacher 
Joseph Eskapha, laid him and his followers under a 
ban. Many bickerings ensued in the community, 
the particulars of which are not known. Finally he 
and his disciples were banished from Smyrna (about 
1651). The Messianic delusion appeared to have 
been extinguished, but it smouldered on, and broke 
out again, about fifteen years later, in a bright, con- 
suming flame. This persecution, far from terrifying 


Sabbatai Zevi, gave him a sense of his dignity. The 
idea of a suffering Messiah had been transplanted 
from Christianity to Judaism ; it was the accepted 
view that humiliation was the precursor of the Mes- 
siah's exaltation and glorification. Sabbatai believed 
in himself, and his disciples, amongst them Moses 
Pinheiro, a man of mature age, highly esteemed for 
scientific acquirements, shared the belief with 
tenacity. If the Messiah had been obliged to beg 
his way through the world, his illusion would not have 
long held its ground. But Sabbatai was richly pro- 
vided with jneans, he could maintain his independ- 
ence and his presumed dignity, and win adherents to 
his cause. At first, however, he kept himself in 
concealment, did not say much about his Messiah- 
ship, and thereby escaped ridicule. Whither he be- 
took himself after his banishment from his native 
city is not quite certain ; probably to the Turkish 
capital, where dwelt the largest Jewish community, 
in which were so many clean and unclean elements, 
that everyone could find companions for plans and 
adventures. Here he made the acquaintance of a 
preacher, Abraham Yachini, who confirmed him in 
his delusion. Yachini stood in high repute on ac- 
count of his talent as a preacher. He was a needy 
and artful fellow, and made neat transcriptions fora 
Dutch Christian, who dabbled in Oriental literature, 
From selfish motives or delight in mystification, and 
to confirm Sabbatai Zevi in his delusion, Yachini 
palmed off upon him an apocryphal manuscript in 
archaic characters, which he alleged bore ancient 
testimony to Sabbatai's Messiahship. 

11 1, Abraham, was shut up for forty years in a cave, and wondered 
that the time of miracles did not make its appearance. Then a voice 
replied to me, 'A. son shall be born in the year of the world 5386 
(1626), and be called SabbataTf. He shall quell the great dragon : he 
is the true Messiah, and shall wage war without weapons/" 

This document, which the young fanatic himself 
appears to have taken for a genuine revelation, 


became later on the source of many mystifications 
and impostures. However, it appeared inadvisable 
to the dupe and the deceiver that he should appear 
in Constantinople. Salonica, which had always paid 
homage to mysticism, seemed a more suitable field 
for Kabbalistic extravagances. Here, therefore, 
Sabbatai resided for some time, gained adherents, 
and came forward with greater boldness. Here he 
enacted one of his favorite scenes, by which he after- 
wards worked upon the imagination of the Kab- 
balists. He prepared a solemn festival, invited his 
friends, sent for the sacred book (Torah), and inti- 
mated to those present, that he was about to cele- 
brate his mystical marriage with it. In the language 
of the Kabbala this meant that the Torah, the 
daughter of heaven, was to be united indissolubly 
with the Messiah, the son of heaven, or En-Sof. 
This scene displeased the discreet rabbis of Salonica, 
and they decreed his banishment. Thence he be- 
took himself to the Morea, probably to relatives and 
friends of his father, and resided for some time at 
Athens, where at that time there was a Jewish com- 
munity. When the Jews of this region heard of the 
sentence pronounced upon him, they gave him no 
encouragement. This opposition, far from dis- 
couraging him, only served to make him bolder ; he 
probably regarded his sufferings as necessary for 
the glorification of the Messiah. 

At last, after long wandering, a prospect of real- 
izing his dream presented itself at Cairo. In the 
Egyptian capital there was a Jewish mint-master 
and tax-farmer, with the title of Saraph-Bashi, similar 
to the Alabarchs at Alexandria in earlier ages. At 
that time (after 1656) the office was held by Raphael 
Joseph Chelebi, of Aleppo, a man of great wealth 
and open-handed benevolence, but of unspeakable 
credulity, and ineradicable propensity to mysticism 
and asceticism. Fifty learned Talmudists and Kab- 
balists were supported by him, and dined at his 


table. Everyone who sought his compassion found 
help and relief in his need. While riding in the 
royal chariot, and appearing in splendid robes, he 
wore sackcloth underneath, fasted and bathed much, 
and frequently at night scourged himself. Samuel 
Vital, a son of Chayim Calabrese, superintended his 
constant penances according to the Kabbalistic pre- 
cepts of Lurya (Tikkun Lurya). These were in- 
tended, as has been stated, to hasten the coming of 
the Messiah. To be in Cairo and not to make 
Raphael Joseph's acquaintance was an inconceivable 
course for a Kabbalist. Sabbatai Zevi thus came 
into his circle, and won his confidence the sooner, 
as, owing to his independent position, he did not 
desire anything of him. He appears to have par- 
tially revealed his Messianic plans to Raphael. He 
had grown older, maturer, and wiser, and knew how 
to make men amenable to his wishes. The Apo- 
calyptic year, 1666, was drawing near, and it was 
important to use the auspicious moment. 

He betook himself to Jerusalem, perhaps under 
the delusion that in the Holy Land a miracle would 
take^ place to confirm his greatness. The com- 
munity at Jerusalem was at that time in every way 
poor and wretched. Besides being ground down 
by the oppressions and extortions of Turkish offi- 
cials, it suffered because the supplies from Europe 
were exhausted on account of the constant massacres 
of the Jews in Poland. The consequence was that 
the best men emigrated, leaving the government of 
the community to thorough-going Kabbalists, de- 
voted adherents of Lurya and Vital, or to a licen- 
tious set) who followed the impulses of bare-faced 
selfishness. There were at that time very few men 
of repute and authority in Jerusalem. A Marrano 
physician named Jacob Zemach appears to have 
stood at their head. He had leapt, so to speak, in 
one bound from a Portuguese church into the nest 
of Kabbalists at Safet, and there, as later at Jeru- 


salem, had become an unconscious tool for the 
mystifications practiced by Vital. Abraham Amigo, 
a Talmudist of the second or third rank, had similar 
aims. A man of some importance, to be sure, was 
Jacob Chages (1620-1674), who had migrated from 
Italy to Jerusalem, and who wrote Spanish well. 
Chages, however, had no official position, but lived 
the life of a recluse in an academy, which two bro- 
thers named Vega, of Leghorn, had founded for him. 
The thoughtless credulity of the people of Jerusalem 
of that time is instanced by the gross deception 
practiced upon them by Baruch Gad, one of their 
alms-collecting emissaries, which they, the- learned 
and the unlearned, not only credited, but swore to 
as true. Baruch Gad had gone on a begging jour- 
ney to Persia, where he pretended that he had 
experienced many adventures, and had been saved 
by a Jew of the tribe of Naphtali, who had given him 
a Kabbalistic letter from one of the " Sons of Moses" 
at the miraculous river Sabbation. It .contained 
much about the riches, splendor, and daily miracles 
of the Sons of Moses, and said that they were 
momentarily awaiting the commencement of the 
Messianic epoch as a signal for coming forth. This 
story, certified by a circular, was brought by Baruch 
Gad to Jerusalem, where it found unquestioning cre- 
dence. When the community of Jerusalem had 
fallen into great want in consequence of the Cossack 
massacre, ten so-called rabbis, Jacob Zemach at 
their head, sent to Reggio to their envoy Nathan 
Spira, of Jerusalem, a copy of this document from 
the Sons of Moses, which was kept in careful cus- 
tody. It was to serve as a bait to draw more 
abundant alms. 

The miracle which Sabbatai Zevi was expecting 
for himself in the Holy City was present in the cre- 
dulity and mania for miracles on the part of the 
people of Jerusalem, who were inclined, like the 
lowest savages, to accept any absurd message as a 


divine revelation, if only it was brought before them 
in the right manner. At first the Smyrna enthu- 
siast kept himself quiet, and gave no offense. He 
lived according ta the precepts of the Kabbala, 
imposed the severest mortifications on himself, and 
often stayed by the graves of pious men in order to 
draw down their spirits. Thereby, aided by his pleas- 
ing, attractive, and reverential behavior and taciturn 
manner, he gradually gathered round him a circle of 
adherents who had blind faith in him. One of his 
devoted followers related with credulous simplicity, 
that Sabbatai Zevi shed floods of tears in prayer. 
He sang Psalms the whole night with his melodious 
voice, while pacing the room now with short, now 
with long strides. His whole conduct was out of 
the ordinary groove. He was also wont to sing 
coarse love songs in Spanish, with a mystical mean- 
ing, about the emperor's fair daughter Melisselda, 
with her coral lips and milk-white skin, as she rose 
out of the bath. Sabbatai used another means to 
win hearts. When he showed himself in the streets 
he distributed sweet-meats of all sorts to the chil- 
dren, who in consequence ran after him, and he 
thus gained the favor of their mothers. 

An incident brought his eccentric ideas nearer 
their realization. The community at Jerusalem was 
sentenced by one of the pachas or some minor offi- 
cial to one of those oppressive exactions which fre- 
quently carried torture or death in their train. The 
impoverished members rested their hopes solely 
on Raphael Joseph Chelebi at Cairo, known to have 
the means and inclination to succor his afflicted 
brethren, especially the saints of Jerusalem, A 
messenger was to be sent to him, and Sabbatai Zevi 
was universally regarded as the most fitting, partic- 
ularly as he was a favorite with the Saraph-Bashi. 
He undertook this task willingly, because he hoped 
to get the opportunity to play the part of saviour of 
the Holy City, His worshipers date from this jour- 



ney to Egypt the beginning of his miraculous power, 
and assert that he accomplished many miracles at 
sea. Sabbatai however traveled not by water, but 
by land, by way of Hebron and Gaza, probably join- 
ino- a caravan through the desert. He excited so 
much attention that all the Jews of Hebron, in order 
to observe him, refrained from sleep during the 
nio-ht of his stay. Arrived at Cairo, he immediately 
received from Chelebi the sum required for the 
ransom of the community at Jerusalem, and, besides, 
an extraordinarily favorable opportunity presented 
itself to confirm his Messianic dreams. 

During the massacre of the Jews in Poland by 
Chmielnicki, a Jewish orphan girl of about six was 
found by Christians, and put into a nunnery. Her 
parents were dead, a brother had been driven to 
Amsterdam, the whole community ^ broken up and 
put to flight, and no one troubled himself about the 
forsaken child, so that the nuns of the convent re- 
garded the foundling as a soul brought to^them and 
gave her a Christian conventual education. The 
impressions received in the house of her parents 
were so lively, that Christianity found no entrance 
into her heart; she remained faithful to Judaism. 
Nevertheless, her soul was nourished by fantastic 
dreams induced by her surroundings, and her 
thoughts took an eccentric direction. She devel- 
oped into a lovely girl, and longed to escape from the 
cloister. One day she was found by Jews, who had 
again settled in the place, in the Jewish cemetery. 
Astonished at finding a beautiful girl of sixteen 
lightly clad in such a position, they questioned her, 
and received answer that she was of Jewish extrac- 
tion, and had been brought up in a convent. The 
night before, she said, she had been bodily seized 
by her father's ghost, and carried out of bed to the 
cemetery. In support of her statement, she showed 
the women nail-marks on her body, which were 
said to come from her father's hands. She ap- 

CH - Iv - SABBATA'i's WIFE. 

pears to have learnt in the convent the art of pro- 
ducing scars on her body. The Jews thought it 
dangerous to keep a fugitive from the convent in 
their midst, and sent her to Amsterdam. There 
she^ found her brother. Eccentric by nature and 
excited by the change in her fortunes, she continu- 
ally repeated the words, that she was destined to be 
the wife of the Messiah, who was soon to appear. 
After she had lived some years in Amsterdam under 
the name of Sarah, she came it is not known for 
what purpose by way of Frankfort-on-the-Main to 
Leghorn. There, as credible witnesses aver, she 
put her charms to immoral use, yet continued to 
maintain that she was dedicated to the Messiah, 
and could contract no other marriage. The strange 
history of this Polish girl circulated amongst the 
Jews, and penetrated even to Cairo. Sabbatai Zevi, 
who heard of it, gave out that a Polish-Jewish maiden 
had been promised to him in a dream as his spirit- 
ual wife. He sent a messenger to Leghorn, and 
had Sarah brought to Cairo. 

By her fantastical, free, self-confident behavior 
and by her beauty, Sarah made a peculiar impres- 
sion upon Sabbatai and his companions. He him- 
self was firmly convinced of his Messiahship. To 
Sabbatai and his friends the immoral life of this 
Polish adventuress was not unknown. This also 
was said to be a Messianic dispensation; he had 
been directed, like the prophet Hosea, to marry an 
unchaste wife. No one was so happy as Raphael 
Joseph Chelebi, because at his house the Messiah 
met his bride, and was married. He placed his 
wealth at the disposal of Sabbatai Zevi, and became 
his most influential follower. The warm adhesion 
of so dignified, respected, and powerful a man 
brought many believers to Sabbatai. It was rightly 
said, that he had come to Egypt as a messenger, 
and returned as the Messiah. For, from this second 
residence at Cairo dates his public career. Sarah, 


also, the Messiah's fair bride, brought him many dis- 
ciples. Through her a romantic, licentious element 
entered into the fantastic career of the Smyrna 
Messiah. Her beauty and free manner of life at- 
tracted youths and men who had no sympathy with 
the mystical movement. With a larger following 
than when he started, Sabbatai returned to Pales- 
tine, bringing two talismans of more effective power 
than Kabbalistic means Sarah's influence and 
Chelebi's money. At Gaza he found a third con- 
federate, who helped to smooth his path. 

At Jerusalem there lived a man named Elisha 
Levi, who had migrated thither from Germany. The 
Jews of the Holy City dispatched him to all parts 
of the world with begging letters. Whilst he was 
roaming through northern Africa, Amsterdam, Ham- 
burg, and Poland, his son Nathan Benjamin Levi 
(1644-1680) was left to himself, or the perverse ed- 
ucation of that time. He developed, in the school 
of Jacob Chages, into a youth with superficial knowl- 
edge of the Talmud, acquired Kabbalistic scraps, 
and obtained facility in the high-sounding, but hol- 
low, nonsensical Rabbinical style of the period, 
which concealed poverty of thought beneath ver- 
biage. The pen was his faithful instrument, and 
replaced the gift of speech, in which he had little 
facility. This youth was suddenly raised from press- 
ing poverty to opulence. A rich Portuguese, Sam- 
uel Lisbona, who had moved from Damascus to 
Gaza, asked Jacob Chages to recommend a husband 
for his beautiful, but one-eyed daughter, and he 
suggested his disciple Nathan Benjamin. Thus he 
became connected with a rich house, and in conse- 
quence of his change of fortune, lost all stability, if 
he had had any. When Sabbatai Zevi, with a large 
train of followers, came to Gaza on his way back 
from Cairo, posing as the Messiah, and accepted as 
such by the crowds gathering about him, Nathan 
Ghazati (z.<s., of Gaza) entered into close relationship 


with him. In what way their mutual acquaintance 
and attachment arose is not explained. Sabbatai's 
disciples declared that Nathan had dug up a part 
of the ancient writing, wherein Zevi's Messiahship 
was testified. It is probably nearer the truth, that 
Sabbata'i, to convince Ghazati of his mission, palmed 
off on him the spurious document received from 
Abraham Yachini. At any rate Nathan became his 
most zealous adherent, whether from conviction or 
from a desire to play a prominent part, can no 
longer be discerned in this story, in which simple 
faith, self-deception, and willful imposture, border 
so close on one another. 

After Nathan Ghazati and Sabbata'i had become 
acquainted, the former a youth of twenty, the latter 
a man of forty, prophetic revelations followed, close 
upon one another. Ghazati professed to be the 
risen Elijah, who was to pave the way for the 
Messiah. He gave out that he had received a 
call on a certain day (probably the eve of the Pen- 
tecost, 1665), that in a year and a few months the 
Messiah would show himself in his glory, would 
take the sultan captive without arms, only with 
music, and establish the dominion of Israel over all 
the nations of the earth. The Messianic age was to 
begin in the year 1666. This revelation was pro- 
claimed everywhere in writing by the pretended 
prophet of Gaza, with the addition of wild fantasies 
and suggestive details. He wrote to Raphael 
Joseph acknowledging the receipt of the moneys 
sent by him, and begging him not to lose faith in 
Sabbata'i ; the latter would certainly in a year and 
some months make the sultan his subject and lead 
him about as a captive. The dominion would be 
entrusted to Nathan, until he should conquer the 
other nations without bloodshed, warring only 
against Germany, the enemy of the Jews. Then 
the Messiah would betake himself to the banks of 
theViver Sabbation, and there espouse the daughter 



of the great prophet, Moses, who at the age of thir- 
teen would be exalted as queen, with Sarah as her 
slave. Finally, he would lead back the ten tribes to 
the Holy Land, riding upon a lion with a seven- 
headed dragon in its jaws. The more exaggerated 
and absurd Nathan's prophetic vaporings were, the 
more credence did they find. A veritable fit oi in- 
toxication took possession of nearly all the Jews of 
Jerusalem and the neighboring communities. _ With 
a prophet, formerly a shy youth, proclaiming so 
great a message, and a Messiah, more profoundly 
versed in the Kabbala than Chayim Vital, who could 
venture to doubt the approach of the time of grace ? 
Those who shook their heads at this rising impos- 
ture were laughed to scorn by the Sabbatians. 

The rabbinical leaders of the Jerusalem com- 
munity were, unfavorably struck by this Messianic 
movement, and sought to stifle it at its birth. It 
was sufficient to prejudice them against Sabbatai 
that he stood in the foreground, and put them in the 
shade. He is said to have distributed the money 
from Egypt according to his own discretion, and in 
the division to have unduly favored his own follow- 
ers. Jacob Chages and his college threatened him 
with the heaviest excommunication if he should per- 
sist in his course. Sabbatai Zevi appears to have 
cared little for this, especially as a ban could have 
no effect if the community was on his side. Even 
Moses Galante, the son-in-law of Jacob Chages, es- 
teemed as an authority in the Holy Land, regarded 
him with respect, although, as he afterwards de- 
clared, he did not believe in him unconditionally. 
Sabbatai Zevi saw clearly that Jerusalem was not 
the right place for his plans, as the rabbis would 
place obstacles in his way. Nathan Ghazati there- 
upon proclaimed in an ecstasy that Jerusalem had 
lost its importance as the sacred city, and that Gaza 
had taken its place. At Smyrna, his native city 
an important gathering-place for Europeans and 



Asiatics Sabbata'i thought he could obtain greater 
success. ^ His rich brothers prepared a good recep- 
tion for him by the distribution of money amongst 
the poor and needy, and Nathan's extravagant pro- 
phetic letters had kindled the imagination of the 
people. But before he left Jerusalem, Sabbatai took 
care to dispatch active missionaries of a fanatical 
and fraudulent character, to predict his Messianic 
appearance, excite men's minds, and fill them with 
his name. Sabbatai Raphael, a beggar and im- 
postor from the Morea, enlarged in mountebank 
fashion on the Messiah's greatness ; and a German 
Kabbalist, Matathias Bloch, did the same in blind 

Thus it came to pass that when Sabbatai Zevileft 
Jerusalem of his own accord, as he pretended, 
banished, as others said he was at once received 
in triumph in the large Asiatic community of Aleppo. 
Still greater was the homage paid him in his native 
city (autumn 1665). The ban pronounced against 
him was not remembered. He was accompanied 
by a man of Jerusalem, Samuel Primo, who became 
his private secretary, and one of his most zealous 
recruiting agents. Samuel Primo understood the 
art of investing trifles with an air of official serious- 
ness and by a flowery style to give world-wide 
importance to the Messianic imposture. He 
alone remained sober in the midst of the ever- 
increasing fanaticism, and gave aim and direction to 
the enthusiasts. Primo appears to have heralded 
Sabbata'i's fame from conviction ; he had a secret 
plan to be accomplished through the Messiah. He 
appears to have made use of Sabbatai more than to 
have been employed by him. Sabbatai had tact 
enough not to announce himself at once at Smyrna 
as the Messiah; he commanded the believing mul- 
titude not to speak of it until the proper time. But 
this reserve, combined with other circumstances 
the ranting letters of Nathan, the arrival of some 


men of Jerusalem who brought him the homage of 
the Holy City (though without being commissioned 
to do so), the severe mortifications which the people 
inflicted on themselves, to atone for their sins and 
become worthy of the coming of the Messiah all 
this worked upon the minds of the multitude, and 
they could scarcely wait for the day of his revelation. 
He had the Kabbalists on his side through his mys- 
tical utterances. At length Sabbata'i Zevi declared 
himself publicly in the synagogue, with blowing of 
horns, as the expected Messiah (New Year, Sep- 
tember, or October, 1665), and the multitude shouted 
to him, " Long live our King, our Messiah ! " 

The proverb that a prophet is least honored in 
his own country was for once belied. The madness 
of the Jews of Smyrna knew no bounds. Every 
sign of honor and enthusiastic love was shown him. 
It was not joy, but delirium to feel that the long- 
expected Messiah had at last appeared, and in their 
own community. The delirium seized great and 
' small. Women, girls, and children fell into rap- 
tures, and proclaimed Sabbata'i Zevi in the language 
of the Zohar as the true redeemer. The word of 
the prophet, that God at the end of the world will 
pour forth his spirit upon the young, appeared ful- 
filled. All prepared for a speedy exodus, the re- 
turn to the Holy Land. Workmen neglected their 
business, and thought only of the approaching king- 
dom of the Messiah. The confusion in men's brains 
showed itself in the way in which the Sabbatians of 
Smyrna strove to merit a share in the time of grace. 
On the one hand, they subjected themselves to in- 
credible penances fasted several days in succes- 
sion, refrained from sleep for nights, in order that, 
by Kabbalistic prayers (Tikkunim) at midnight, they 
might wipe away their sins, and bathed in extremely 
cold weather, even with snow on the ground. Some 
buried themselves up to the neck in the soil, and 
remained in their damp graves until their limbs were 


stiff with cold. On the other hand, they abandoned 
themselves to the most extravagant delight, and 
celebrated festival after festival in honor of the Mes- 
siah, whenever Sabbatai Zevi showed himself 
always with a large train of followers or walked 
through the streets singing Psalms, " The right hand 
of ^ the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord 
bringeth victory," or preached in a synagogue, and 
proved his Messiahship by Kabbalistic interpreta- 
tions of Scripture. He showed himself only in pro- 
cession in public, waved a fan to cool himself, and 
whoever was touched with it was sure of the king- 
dom of heaven. The delirious joy of his followers 
knew no bounds. Every word of his was repeated 
a thousand times as the word of God, expounded, 
exaggerated, and intensified. All that he did was 
held as miraculous, published, and believed. The 
madness went so far that his adherents in Smyrna 
and elsewhere, as at Salonica, that Kabbalist hot- 
bed of old, married their children of twelve, ten, and 
even younger, to one another seven hundred 
couples in all that, according to Kabbalistic ideas, 
they might cause the souls not yet born to enter 
into life, and thereby remove the last obstacle to the 
commencement of the time of grace. 

The activity of Sabbatai Zevi in electrifying the 
minds of simple believers, now by public pomp and 
pageantry, now by silent retirement, was supple- 
mented by Sarah, his wife, who by her loose conduct 
worked on the passions of the male population. 
The bonds of chastity, drawn much tighter among 
Eastern Jews than in Europe, were broken. The 
assembling of persons of both sexes in great multi- 
tudes, hitherto unheard of, was a slight innovation. 
In Messianic transports of delight men and women 
danced with one another as if mad, and in mystical 
fervor many excesses are said to have been com- 
mitted. The voice of censure and caution was 
gradually silenced ; all were drawn into the vortex, 


and the unbelievers were rendered harmless. The 
rabbi Aaron de la Papa (died 1674), an aged and 
respectable man, who at first spoke against this 
Messianic madness, and pronounced the ban against 
its originator, together with other rabbis, was pub- 
licly reviled in a sermon by Sabbatai, removed from 
office, and obliged to leave Smyrna. 

Most unworthy was the behavior of the rabbi 
Chayim Benvenisti (1603-1673), a very considerable 
authority on the Talmud, and of astonishing learn- 
ing, who, because he was a literary opponent of De 
la Papa, not only suffered the latter's removal from 
office, but allowed himself to be appointed in his 
place by Sabbatai. Though at first harshly dis- 
posed towards the new Messiah, he became a 
believer, and led the multitude by his authority. 
The latter were instigated by Sabbatai to blood- 
thirsty fanaticism. Because a noble, rich, and re- 
spected man in Smyrna, Chayim Penya, who had 
liberally supported Chayim Benvenisti, opposed 
the widespread delusion with obstinate incredulity, 
he was suddenly attacked in the synagogue, perse- 
cuted, and nearly torn to pieces by the raging 
multitude. Sabbatai Zevi, the pretended incarna- 
tion of piety, commanded the synagogue to be 
broken open and the vile heretic to be seized. But 
when Penya's daughters, likewise attacked by the 
madness, fell into raptures, and prophesied, the 
father had no choice but to put a good face upon 
the wretched business. He also assumed the air of 
a zealous adherent. After Penya's subjugation Sab- 
batai Zevi became sole ruler in the community, and 
could lead the Jewish population at will for good 
or for evil. In this humor which lasted for some 
months, the Jews of Smyrna feared their tyrants, 
the Turkish cadis, very little; if they offered to 
check the prevailing tendency, they were induced by 
rich presents to remain inactive. 

These events in the Jews' quarter at Smyrna 



made a great sensation in ever-widening circles. 
The neighboring communities of Asia Minor, many 
members of which had betaken themselves to 
Smyrna, and witnessing the scenes enacted in that 
town, t brought home exaggerated accounts of the 
Messiah's power of attraction and of working mira- 
cles, were swept into the same vortex. Sabbatai's 
private secretary, Samuel Primo, took care that 
reports of the fame and doings of the Messiah should 
reach Jews abroad. Nathan Ghazati sent circulars 
from Palestine, while the itinerant prophets, Sab- 
batal Raphael and Matathias Bloch, filled the ears 
of their auditors with the most marvelous accounts 
of the new redeemer. Christians also helped to 
spread the story. The residents, the clerks of 
English and Dutch mercantile houses, and the evan- 
gelical ministers, reported the extraordinary occur- 
rences in Smyrna, and though they scoffed at the 
folly of the Jews, could not withhold half-credulous 
sympathy. Did they not see with their own eyes 
the ecstasies, and hear with their own ears the pre- 
dictions, of the prophets and prophetesses of Sab- 
batai Zevi, the true redeemer ? On the exchanges 
in Europe men spoke of him as a remarkable person- 
age, and eagerly awaited news from Smyrna or Con- 
stantinople. At first the Jews were dazed by the 
reports that suddenly burst upon them. Was the 
long cherished hope, that one day the oppression 
and shame of Israel would be removed, and that he 
would return in glory to his home, at length to be 
realized? No wonder that nearly everywhere 
scenes similar to those in Smyrna were repeating 
themselves, that men's minds were filled with cre- 
dulity, accepting mere rumors as accredited facts, 
or that wild excitement, ascetic living, and almsgiv- 
ing to the needy, by way of preparation for the time 
of the Messiah, were followed here and there by 
prophetic ecstasies. Not only the senseless multi- 
tude, but nearly all the rabbis, and even men of 


culture and philosophical judgment, fell a prey to 
this credulity. . . 

At that time not a single man of weight and 
importance recognized that the primary source of all 
these phenomena lay in the Kabbalaand the Zohar. 
Jacob Sasportas, originally from Africa, had lived in 
Amsterdam and London and, at this time, was in 
Hamburg. He was born about 1 620, and died 1 698. 
A man of courage and keen penetration, whose 
word had weight through his Talmudical learning, 
Sasportas from the first combated this Messi- 
anic rage with passionate warmth. He was ^ un- 
wearied in sending letter after letter to the various 
communities and their guides in Europe, Asia,^and 
Africa, to unmask the gross deceptions practiced, 
and to warn against the sad consequences. But even 
he was entangled in the snares of the Kabbala, and 
adopted its principles. On the ground of ^this 
spurious philosophy, thoroughgoing enthusiasts 
were more in the right than half-hearted adherents. 
Spinoza, who might have scattered this thick mist 
with his luminous ideas, was not only estranged 
from Judaism and his race, but even hostile to them, 
and regarded the prevailing perplexities with in- 
difference or malice. 

The accounts of Sabbatai Zevi and the Messianic 
excitement either came direct, or in a roundabout 
way by Alexandria, to Venice, Leghorn, and other 
Italian cities. 

Venice was led by the bigoted Kabbalist Moses 
Zacut, Spinoza's very uncongenial fellow-student, 
who had formed the design of migrating from Am- 
sterdam through Poland to Palestine, but stopped 
short in Venice. Far from opposing the delusion 
of the multitude, he encouraged it, as did the rabbi- 
nate of Venice. The news from Smyrna had most 
striking effect upon the great and the lesser Jerusa- 
lem of the North. The prophet of Gaza, who was 
not devoid of sober calculation, had directed his 



propagandist circulars to the most considerable and 
the richest communities Amsterdam and Hamburg. 
These entered into close relationship with the new 
Messianic movement. The Jews of Amsterdam and 
Hamburg received confirmation of the extraordinary 
events at Smyrna from trustworthy Christians, many 
of whom were sincerely rejoiced thereat. Even 
Heinrich Oldenburg, a distinguished German savant 
in London, wrote to his friend Spinoza (December 

"All the world here is talking of a rumor ot the return of the Israel- 
ites, dispersed for more than two thousand years, to their own coun- 
try. Few believe it, but many wish it. ... Should the news be con- 
firmed, it may bring about a revolution in all thing's." 

The number of believers in Amsterdam increased 
daily among the Portuguese no less than among the 
Germans, and numbers of educated people set the 
example; the rabbis Isaac Aboab and Raphael 
Moses D'Aguilar, Spinoza's fellow-student Isaac 
Naar, and Abraham Pereira, one of the capitalists 
of Amsterdam and a writer on morals in Spanish, 
all became believers. Even the semi-Spinozist 
Dionysius Musaphia became a zealous adherent of 
the new Messiah. In Amsterdam devotion to the 
new faith expressed itself in contradictory ways 
by noisy music and dancing in the houses of prayer, 
and by gloomy, monkish self-mortification. The 
printing presses could not supply enough copies of 
special prayer-books in Hebrew, Portuguese and 
Spanish, for the multitude of believers. In these 
books penances and formulas were given by which 
men hoped to become partakers in the kingdom of 
the Messiah. Many Sabbatian prayer-books (Tik- 
kunim) printed Sabbatai's likeness together with 
that of King David, also the emblems of his domin- 
ion, and select sentences from the Bible. In confi- 
dent expectation of speedy return to the Holy 
Land, the elders of one synagogue introduced the 
custom of pronouncing the priestly blessing every 


At Hamburg, the Jews went to still greater 
lengths of folly, because they wished to make a 
demonstration against the bigoted Christians, who 
in many ways tormented them with vexatious re- 
strictions, and when possible compelled them to lis- 
ten to Christian sermons. Whoever entered the 
synagogue, and saw the Jewish worshipers hop, 
jump, and dance about with the roll of the Law in 
their arms, serious, respectable men withal, of Span- 
ish stateliness, had to take them for madmen. In 
fact, a mental disease prevailed, which made men 
childish; even the most distinguished in the com- 
munity succumbed to it. 

Manoel Texeira, also called Isaac Senor Texeira, 
was born about 1630, and died about 1695. Some 
months before the death of his father, Diego Texeira, 
a Marrano nobleman who had emigrated from Por- 
tugal and settled at Hamburg, Manoel became res- 
ident minister, banker, and confidant of Christina, 
former queen of Sweden. She valued him on ac- 
count of his honesty, his noble bearing, and his 
shrewdness. She exchanged letters with him on 
important affairs, conferred with him on the political 
interests of Europe, and credited him with deep, 
statesmanlike views. During her residence at 
Hamburg she took up her abode in Manoel Tex- 
eira's house, to the vexation of the local ecclesiasti- 
cal authorities who were hostile to the Jews and 
remained quite unconcerned, although the Protest- 
ant preachers censured her severely from the 
pulpits. Men of the highest rank resorted to Tex- 
eira's house, and played with him for high stakes. 
This Jewish cavalier also belonged to Sabbata'i's ad- 
herents, and joined in the absurd dances ; as also 
the skillful and famous physician Bendito de Castro 
(Baruch Nehemiah), now advanced in years, for a 
time the physician of the queen during her residence 
in Hamburg. De Castro was at that time director 
of the Hamburg community, and by his order the 


Messianic follies were practiced in the synagogue. 
Jacob Sasportas, who because of the outbreak of the 
plague in London at that time resided in Hamburg, 
used serious arguments and satire against this Mes- 
sianic delusion ; but he could not make his voice 
heard, and only just escaped rough handling by the 
Sabbatians. The community recently established 
in London in the reign of Charles II, which had 
elected Jacob Sasportas as chief rabbi, was no less 
possessed with this craze. It derived additional 
encouragement from contact with Christian enthu- 
siasts who hoped to bring about the millennium. 
Curious reports flew from mouth to mouth. It was 
said, that in the north of Scotland a ship had ap- 
peared, with silken sails and ropes, manned by sail- 
ors who spoke Hebrew. The flag bore the inscrip- 
tion, "The Twelve Tribes or Families of Israel." 
Believers living in London in English fashion offered 
wagers at the odds of ten to one that Sabbatai 
would be anointed king at Jerusalem within two 
years, and drew formal bills of exchange upon the 
issue. Wherever Jews dwelt, news of the Kabbal- 
istic Messiah of Smyrna penetrated, and everywhere 
produced wild excitement. The little community 
of Avignon, which was not treated in the mildest 
manner by the papal officers, prepared to emigrate 
to the kingdom of Judah in the spring of the year 

If Sabbatai Zevi had not hitherto firmly believed 
in himself and his dignity, this homage from nearly 
the whole Jewish race must have awakened con- 
viction. Every day advices, messengers, and depu- 
tations came pouring in, greeting him in most flat- 
tering terms as king of the Jews, placing life and 
property at his disposal, and overwhelming him 
with gifts. Had he been a man of resolute deter- 
mination and strength of will, he might have ob- 
tained results of importance with this genuine en- 
thusiasm and willing devotion of his believers. Even 



Spinoza entertained the possibility, with this favor- 
able opportunity and the mutability of human things, 
that the Jews might re-establish their kingdom, 
and again be the chosen of God. But Sabbatai 
Zevi was satisfied with the savor of incense^ He 
cherished no great design, or rather, he lived in the 
delusion that men's expectations would fulfill them- 
selves of their own accord by a miracle. Samuel 
Primo and some of his confidants appear, however, 
to have followed a fixed plan, namely, to modify the 
Rabbinical system, or even to abolish it. That was 
in reality implied in the reign of the Messiah. The 
fundamental conception of the Zohar, the Bible of the 
Kabbalists, is that in the time of grace, in the world 
of order (Olam ha-Tikkun), the laws of Judaism, the 
regulations concerning lawful and forbidden things, 
would completely lose their significance. Now this 
time, the Sabbatians thought, had already begun ; 
consequently, the minute ritualistic code of ^ 


Shulchan Aruch ought no longer to be held binding. 
Whether Sabbatai himself drew this conclusion, is 
doubtful. But some of his trusted adherents gave 
this theory prominence. A certain bitterness 
towards the Talmud and the Talmudic method of 
teaching prevailed in this circle. The Sabbatian 
mystics felt themselves confined by the close meshes 
of the Rabbinical network, and sought to disentangle 
it loop by loop. They set up a new deity, substi- 
tuting a man-god for the God of Israel. In their 
wanton extravagance the Kabbalists had so entirely 
changed the conception of the deity, that it had 
dwindled away into nothing. On the other hand, 
they had so exalted and magnified the Messiah, that 
he was close to God. The Sabbatians, or one of 
them (Samuel Primo ?), built on this foundation. 
From the Divine bosom (the Ancient of Days), 
they said, a new divine personage had sprung, 
capable of restoring the order in the world intended 
in the original plan of Divine Perfection. This new 


person was the Holy King (Malka Kadisha), the 
Messiah, the Primal Man (Adam Kadmon), who 
would destroy evil, sin, and corruption, and cause 
the dned-up streams of grace to flow again. He 
the holy king, the Messiah, is the true God, the re- 
deemer and saviour of the world, the God of Israel- 
2 J 1 alone should prayers be addressed. The 
Holy King, or Messiah, combines two natures one 
m /^' ^ e 1 other female : he can do more on account 
of his higher wisdom than the Creator of the world 
Samuel Pnmo, who dispatched circulars and ordi- 
nances in the name of the Messianic king, often 
used the signature, " I, the Lord, your God, Sabbatai 
Zevi. Whether the Smyrna fanatic authorized such 
blasphemous presumptuousness cannot be decided, 
any more than whether in his heart he considered 
the Jewish law null and void. For, although some 
Sabbatians, who uttered these absurdities, pretended 
to have heard them from his own lips, other disciples 
asserted that he was an adherent of traditional Ju- 

The ^truth probably is that Sabbatai Zevi, ab- 
sorbed in idle ruminating, accepted everything which 
the more energetic among nis followers taught or 
suggested. They began the dissolution of Judaism 
by the transformation of the fast of the tenth of 
Tebeth (Asara be-Tebeth) into a day of rejoicing. 
Samuel Primo, in the name of his divinity, directed 
a circular to the whole of Israel in semi-official form: 

" The first-begotten Son of God, Sabbatai Zevi, Messiah and Re- 
deemer of the people of Israel, to all the sons of Israel, Peace ! Since 
ye have been deemed worthy to behold the great day and the fulfill- 
ment of God's word by the prophets, your lament and sorrow must 
be changed into joy, and your fasting into merriment, for ye shall 
weep no more. Rejoice with song- and melody, and change the day 
formerly spent in sadness and sorrow, into a day of jubilee, because 
I have appeared." 

So firmly rooted in men's minds was faith in Sab- 
batai Zevi, that the communities which the letter 
reached in time discontinued this fast, although 


they believed that they could enter into the kingdom 
of the Messiah only by strict abstinence. The staunch 
orthodox party, however, was shocked at this innova- 
tion. They could not conceive the Messiah as other 
than a pious rabbi, who, if possible, would invent 
fresh burdens. A thousand times had they read in 
the Zohar, and repeated to one another, that in the 
time of the Messiah the days of mourning would be 
changed into days of feasting, and the Law in gen- 
eral would be no longer binding ; but when words 
were changed into deeds, horror seized them. 
Those rabbis who before had regarded the move- 
ment half incredulously, or had not interfered with the 
penances and deeds of active benevolence to which 
many of the Sabbatians had felt prompted, thereby 
giving silent assent, now raised their voice against 
the law-destroying Messiahship. There began to 
be formed in every large community a small ^party 
of unbelievers (Kofrim), chiefly men learned in the 
Talmud, who desired to guard the established re- 
ligion against attacks and disruption. 

Rabbinical Judaism and the Kabbala, hitherto in 
close confederation, began to be at variance with 
each other; this doubtful ally showing herself at 
last in her true form as the enemy of Rabbin ism. 
But this sobering discovery, that the Kabbala was 
a serpent nursed into life by the rabbis themselves, 
was recognized only by a few. Theystill remained true 
to her, imputing the growing hostility to the Shul- 
chan Aruch to Sabbatai and his aiders and abettors. 
It was too late, their voices were drowned in shouts 
of joy. Solomon Algazi, and some members of the 
Smyrna rabbinate who shared his opinions, tried to 
oppose the abolition of the fast, but were nearly 
stoned to death by the multitude of believers, and 
were obliged, like Aaron de la Papa, to leave the 
city in haste. 

But the Messiah was at last forced to tear him- 
self out of his fool's paradise and the atmosphere 


of incense in 'Smyrna, in order to accomplish his 
work in the Turkish capital either because his fol- 
lowers compelled him to put his light, not under a 
bushel, but upon it, that the world at large might 
see it, or because the cadi could no longer endure 
the mad behavior of the Jews, and did not wish to 
bear the sole responsibility. It is said that the cadi 
gave Sabbatai Zevi three days to go to Constanti- 
nople and appear before the highest Turkish author- 
ities. In his delusion, Zevi perhaps believed that 
a miracle would fulfill the prophecies of Nathan 
Ghazati and other prophets, that he would easily be 
able to take the crown from the sultan. He pre- 
pared for his journey. Before he left Smyrna, he 
divided the world among his six-and-twenty faithful 
ones, and called them kings and princes. His 
brothers, Elijah and Joseph Zevi, received the lion's 
share ; the former was named king of kings, the 
latter king of the kings of Judah. To his other 
faithful followers he disclosed, in Kabbalistic lan- 
guage, which soul of the former kings of Judah or 
Israel dwelt in each of their bodies, that is, had 
passed into them by transmigration. Among the 
better known names were those of the companion 
of his youth, Isaac Silveira, and Abraham Yachini at 
Constantinople, who had imparted to him the art of 
mysticism. Raphael Joseph Chelebi could least of 
all be passed over ; he had been the first firm sup- 
porter of the Messiah, and was called King Joash. 
A Marrano physician, who had escaped from Por- 
tugal, and was his devoted adherent, received the 
crown of Portugal. Even his former opponent 
Chayim Penya received a kingdom of his own. A 
beggar, Abraham Rubio of Smyrna, was likewise 
raised to a throne, under the name of Josiah, and was 
so firmly convinced of his approaching sovereignty 
that he refused large sums for his imaginary-kingdom. 
Sabbatai Zevi appears purposely to hive started 
on his Messianic journey to Constantinople exactly 


at the beginning of the mystic year 1666. He was 
accompanied by some of his followers, his secretary 
Samuel Primo being in his train. He had an- 
nounced the day of his arrival at Constantinople, 
but circumstances proved false to him. The ship 
in which he sailed had to contend with bad weather, 
and the voyage was prolonged by weeks. Since 
the sea did not devour him, the Sabbatians com- 
posed marvelous stories describing how the storm 
and the waves had obeyed the Messiah. At 
some place on the coast of the Dardanelles the pas- 
sengers of the weather-beaten vessel were obliged 
to land, and there Sabbatai was arrested by Turkish 
officers, sent to take him prisoner. The grand 
vizir, Ahmed Coprili, had heard of the excitement 
of the Jews in Smyrna, and desired to suppress it. 
The officers had strict orders to bring the pretended 
redeemer in fetters to the capital, and therefore 
hastened to meet the ship by which he came. Ac- 
cording to orders, they put him in fetters, and 
brought him to a small town in the neighborhood of 
Constantinople, because the eve of the Sabbath was 
near. Informed by a messenger of his arrival at 
Cheknese Kutschuk, his followers hastened from 
the capital to see him, but found him in a pitiable 
plight and in chains. The money which they 
brought with them procured him some alleviation, 
and on the following Sunday (February, 1666), he 
was brought by sea to Constantinople but in how 
different a manner to what he and his believers had 
anticipated ! However, his coming caused excite- 
ment. At the landing-place there was such a crowd 
of Jews and Turks who desired to see the Messiah, 
that the police were obliged to superintend the dis- 
embarkation. An under-pasha commissioned to 
receive him welcomed the man-god with a vigorous 
box on the ear. Sabbatai Zevi is said, however, to 
have wisely turned the other cheek to the blow. 
Since he could not play the part of the triumphant, 


he at least wished to play that of the suffering Mes- 
siah with good grace. When brought before the 
deputy-vizir (Kaimakam), Mustapha Pasha, he did 
not stand the first test brilliantly. Asked what his 
intentions were, and why he had roused the Jews to 
such a pitch of excitement, Sabbatai is said to have 
answered that he was nothing more than a Jewish 
Chacham, come from Jerusalem to the capital to col- 
lect alms ; he could not help it if the Jews testified 
so much devotion to him. Mustapha thereupon 
sent him to a prison in which insolvent Jewish debt- 
ors were confined. 

^ Far from being disappointed at this treatment, 
his followers in Constantinople persisted in their 
delusion. For some days they kept quietly at home, 
because the street boys mocked them by shouting, 
" Is he coming ? is he coming? " (Gheldi mi, Gheldi 
mi.) But they soon began again to assert that he 
was the true Messiah, and that the sufferings which 
he had encountered were necessary, a condition to 
his^ glorification. The prophets continued to pro- 
claim the speedy redemption of Sabbatai and of all 
Israel. A Turkish dervish filled the streets of Con- 
stantinople with prophecies of the Messiah, whose 
enemies said that Sabbatai's followers had bribed 
him. Thousands crowded daily to Sabbatai's place 
of confinement merely to catch a glimpse of him. 
English merchants whose claims were not satisfied 
by their Jewish debtors applied to the Messiah. 
An order in his handwriting, admonishing defaulters 
to do justice to their creditors, as otherwise they 
would have no share in his joy and glory, had the 
best effect. Samuel Primo took care that most fab- 
ulous accounts should reach the Jews of Smyrna 
and those at a distance, of the reverence paid the 
Messiah by the Turkish authorities. At heart, he 
wrote, they were all convinced of his dignity. The 
expectations of the Jews were raised to a still higher 
pitch, and the most exaggerated hopes fostered to 


a greater degree. It was looked upon as a palpable 
miracle that summary Turkish justice allowed him, 
the rebellious Jew, to live. Did not this act _of 
mercy prove that he was feared? The Turkish 
government in fact seems to have stood in awe of 
the Jewish Messiah. The Cretan war was impend- 
ing, which demanded all the energy of the half- 
exhausted Turkish empire. The prudent grand 
vizir, Ahmed Coprili, did not like' to sentence him 
to death, thus making a fresh martyr, and causing 
a desperate riot among the Jews. Even the Turks, 
charmed by Sabbatal's manner, and deceived by ex- 
traordinary miraculous manifestations, especially by 
the prophecies of women and children, joined the 
ranks of his worshipers. It seemed to Coprili 
equally dangerous to leave Sabbatai, during his ab- 
sence at the war, in Constantinople, where he might 
easily add fuel to the ever-increasing excitement in 
the capital. He therefore commanded, after Sab- 
batai had been imprisoned in Constantinople for 
two months from the beginning of February to 
April 17 that he be taken to the castle of the 
Dardanelles at Abydos, where state-prisoners were 
wont to be kept in custody. It was a mild confine- 
ment ; some of his friends, among them Samuel 
Primo, were allowed to accompany him thither. 
The Sabbatians called this fortress by a mystical 
name, the Tower of Strength (Migdal Oz). 

If Sabbatai Zevi had doubted himself for a mo- 
ment, his courage rose through his change of abode, 
the respectful clemency shown him by the divan, 
and the steady and increasing devotion of the Jews. 
He felt himself the Messiah again. On his arrival 
at the castle of the Dardanelles on April 19, the day 
of preparation for the Passover, he slew a Paschal 
lamb for himself and his followers, and ate it with 
the fat, which is forbidden by the laws of the Talmud. 
He is said, while doing so, to have used a blessing 
which implied that the Mosaic, Talmudic, and Rab- 



binical law was abrogated" Blessed be God, who 
hath restored again that which was forbidden." At 
Abydos he held regular court with the large sums 
of money which his brothers and his rich adherents 
sent him with lavish hand. His wife Sarah, who 
was allowed to remain with him, demeaned herself 
as the Messianic queen, and bewitched the multitude 
by her charms. From the Turkish capital a number 
of ships conveyed his followers to the castle of the 
Dardanelles. The fare on vessels rose in conse- 
quence daily. From other countries and continents, 
too, crowds of Jews streamed to the place of his 
captivity, in the hope to be deemed worthy of be- 
holding him. The governor of the castle reaped 
advantage thereby, for he charged the visitors en- 
trance money, and raised it to fifteen or thirty marks 
a head. Even the inhabitants of the place profited, 
because they could earn high prices for board and 
lodging. A veritable shower of gold poured into 
Abydos. ^ The impression which these facts, indus- 
triously circulated and exaggerated, made on the 
Jews in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the effect 
which they produced, are indescribable. With few 
exceptions all were convinced of Sabbata'i's Mes- 
siahship, and of a speedy redemption, in two years 
at the latest. They argued that he had had the 
courage to go to the Turkish capital, although he 
had openly proclaimed the dethronement of the 
sultan, yet had not forfeited his life, but had been 
left in a sort of mock imprisonment. What more 
was needed to confirm the predictions of prophets 
of ancient and modern times ? The Jews accord- 
ingly prepared seriously to return to their original 
home. In Hungary they began to unroof their 
houses. In large commercial cities, where Jews 
took the lead in wholesale business, such as Am- 
sterdam, Leghorn, and Hamburg, stagnation of 
trade ensued. In almost all synagogues his initials, 
S and Z, were posted up with more or less adorn- 


ment. Almost everywhere a prayer for him was 
inserted in the following form: "Bless our Lord 
and King, the holy and righteous Sabbata'i Zevi, the 
Messiah of the God of Jacob." In Europe the eyes 
of all communities were directed to Amsterdam, the 
representatives of which adhered to the movement 
most enthusiastically. Every post-day which brought 
fresh letters was a holiday for them. The Amster- 
dam Jews showed their joy openly, and were afraid 
neither of the Christian population nor of the mag- 
istrates. Isaac Naar, of Amsterdam, and the rich 
Abraham Pereira, prepared themselves for a journey 
to the Messiah, and the former ironically announced 
it to the unbelieving Jacob Sasportas. The Ham- 
burg community always imitated that of Amster- 
dam, or went beyond it. The council introduced 
the custom of praying for Sabbatai Zevi, not only 
on Saturday, but also on Monday and Thursday. 
The unbelievers were compelled to remain in the 
synagogue and join in the prayer with a loud Amen. 
And all this was done at the suggestion of the edu- 
cated physician Bendito de Castro. The believers 
went so far as to threaten their opponents if they 
ventured to utter a word of censure against Sab- 
batai. At Venice, on the Sabbath, a quarrel broke 
out between the Sabbatians and their opponents, 
and one of the latter nearly lost his life. When 
Sabbatai was asked how the Kofrim (unbelievers) 
should be dealt with, he, or Samuel Primo, answered 
that they might be put to death without ado, even 
on the Sabbath ; the executors of such punishment 
were sure to enjoy eternal bliss. A learned Tal- 
mudist at Buda, Jacob Ashkenazi of Wilna, whose 
son and grandson became zealous persecutors of 
the Sabbatians, was guided by the decision, and de- 
clared a member of the community worthy of death, 
because he would not say the blessing for Sabbatai 
Zevi. In Moravia (at Nikolsburg) there were stich 
violent dissensions and tumults in consequence of 


the craze about the Messiah, that the governor of 
the province was obliged to post up notices to calm 
men's minds. At Salee, in the north-western part 
of Africa, the ruling Emir Gailan (Gailand) ordered 
a. persecution of the Jews, because they too openly 
displayed the hope of their coming redemption. 

Many Christians shared the delusive faith in the 
new Messiah, and the weekly tidings from the East 
concerning Sabbatai Zevi and his doings made an 
overwhelming impression on them. At Hamburg, 
for example, pious Protestants betook themselves to 
the proselytizing preacher Esdras Edzard, and 
asked him what was to be done : 

" We have certain accounts, not only from Jews, but also from our 
Christian correspondents at Smyrna, Aleppo, Constantinople, and 
other places in Turkey, that the new Messiah of the Jews does many 
miracles, and the Jews of the whole world flock to him. What will 
become of the Christian doctrine and the belief in our Messiah?" 

The attention bestowed by educated classes of 
Christians upon the extraordinary events, which 
were published as news of the day, in turn enhanced 
the credulity of the Jews. In short, every circum- 
stance tended to increase the deception. Only 
Jacob Sasportas raised his warning voice against 
the imposture. He sent letters in all directions, 
here to point out the absurdity of current rumors, 
there to collect exact information. He failed to 
obtain striking evidence of Sabbatafs, or Nathan's, 
roguery. Forged letters and documents were the 
order of the day ; conscientiousness and uprightness 
had utterly disappeared. Thus the mist of false be- 
lief grew thicker and thicker, and one was no longer 
able to get at the truth. 

For three months, from April to July, Sabbata'i 
had been leading the life of a prince in the castle 
of the Dardanelles, intent only upon his own apothe- 
osis. Either from caprice or at Samuel Primo's sug- 
gestion, he declared the fast of the iyth Tammuz to 
be abolished, because on this day he had realized his 


Messianic character. Was this a mere freak, or was 
it done with the intention of accustoming his adher- 
ents to the abolition of Rabbinical Judaism ? At all 
events, he appointed the 23d of Tammuz (July 25th), 
a Monday, to be kept as a strict Sabbath. More 
than four thousand Jews, men and women, who hap- 
pened to be at Abydos, celebrated this new Sabbath 
with great scrupulousness. Sabbatai^or his secre- 
tary, sent circulars to the communities directing 
them to celebrate the next fast, the ninth of Ab, his 
birthday, as a festival by a special service, with 
Psalms specially chosen, with eating of choice meats, 
and the sound of the harp and singing. He is said 
to have contemplated the annulling of all the Jewish 
festivals, even the Day of Atonement, and the intro- 
duction of others in their stead. But before this 
could be done, he was guilty in his pride of an act 
of folly which caused the whole fabric to collapse. 

Among the many thousand visitors from far and 
near, two Poles from Lemberg made a pilgrimage 
to him, to confirm their faith and feast on his count- 
enance. One was Isaiah, son of a highly-esteemed 
Rabbinical authority, the aged David Levi (Ture 
Zahab), and grandson of the no less celebrated Joel 
Serkes ; the other, his half-brother, Leb Herz. 
From these two Poles Sabbata'i heard that in the 
distant land from which they came, another prophet, 
Nehemiah Cohen, was announcing the approach of 
the Messiah's kingdom, but not through Sabbatal. 
He gave Isaiah Levi a laconic letter to take to his 
father, in which he promised the Jews of Poland 
revenge for the massacre by the Cossacks, and 
peremptorily ordered Nehemiah to come to him 
with all speed. He laid so much stress on Nehe- 
miah's coming, that he made his followers eager for 
his arrival. The two Poles traveled back delighted 
to Lemberg, and everywhere told of the splendor 
amid which they had seen the Messiah. Nehemiah 
was ordered to hasten to Sabbatal, and he was not 



deterred by the length of the journey. When he 
arrived at Abydos at the beginning of September, 
he was immediately admitted to an audience which 
lasted several days. The Polish prophet and the 
Smyrna Messiah did not laugh in one another's faces, 
like two augurs, but carried on a grave discussion. 
The subject of their mystical conversation remained 
unknown, as may be imagined. It was said to con- 
cern the forerunner of the Messiah the Messiah of 
Ephraim whether or not he had appeared and 
perished^as had been predicted. Nehemiah was 
not convinced by the long argument, and did not 
conceal the fact. On this account, the fanatical 
Sabbatians are said to have secretly made signs to 
one another to do away with this dangerous Pole. 
He fortunately escaped from the castle, betook him- 
self forthwith to Adrianople, to the Kaimakam Mus- 
tapha, became a Mahometan, and betrayed the fan- 
tastic and treasonable designs which Sabbatai Zevi 
cherished, and which, he said, had remained unknown 
to the government, only because the overseer of the 
castle of Dardanelles had an interest in the con- 
course of Jews. 

The Kaimakam conveyed the intelligence to the 
sultan, Mahomet IV, and the course to be pursued 
with regard to Sabbatai was maturely considered, 
the mufti Vanni being also admitted to aid the de- 
liberations. To make short work with the rebellious 
schemer appeared impracticable to the council, par- 
ticularly as Mahometans also followed him. If he 
should fall as a martyr, a new sect might arise, which 
would kindle fresh disturbances. Vanni, a prosely- 
tizing priest, proposed that an attempt be made to 
bring Sabbatai over to Islam. This advice was 
followed, and the sultan's physician (Hakim Bashi), 
a Jewish renegade, by name Guidon, was employed 
as the medium. A messenger suddenly appeared 
at Abydos, drove away the Jews, who were besieg- 
ing the Messiah with homage, conveyed him. to 

1 54 


Adrianople, and brought him first to the Hakim 
Bashi, who, as a former coreligionist, would be able 
to convert him the more easily. The physician rep- 
resented to him the dreadful punishment that would 
inevitably befall him he would be bound, and 
scourged through the streets with burning torches, 
if he did not appease the wrath of the sultan by 
adopting Islamism. It is not known whether this 
call to apostatize from Judaism cost the conceited 
Messiah great mental conflict. He^had not much 
manly courage, and Judaism, in its existing form, was 
perhaps dead for him. So he adopted Guidon's 
advice. The following day (Elul 13, September 14, 
1666) he was brought before the sultan. He imme- 
diately cast off his Jewish head-dress, in sign of con- 
tempt ; a page offered him a white Turkish turban 
and a green instead of the black mantle which he 
wore, and so his conversion to the Mahometan 
religion was accomplished. When his dress was 
changed, it is said that several pounds of biscuit 
were found in his loose trousers. The sultan was 
highly pleased at this termination of the movement, 
gave him the name of Mehmed Effendi, and ap- 
pointed him his door-keeper Capigi Bashi Otorak 
with a considerable monthly salary ; he was to 
remain near the sultan. The Messiah's wife, Sarah, 
the Polish rabbi's fair daughter of loose behavior, 
likewise became a Mahometan, under the name of 
Fauma Kadin, and received rich presents from the 
sultana. Some of Sabbatai's followers also went 
over to Islam. The mufti Vanni instructed them in 
the Mahometan religion. Sabbatai is said- to have 
married a Mahometan slave, in addition to his wife 
Sarah, at the command of the mufti. Nehemiah 
Cohen, who had brought about this sudden change, 
did not remain in Turkey, but returned to Poland, 
took off the turban, and lived quietly without breath- 
ing a word of what had happened. He disappeared 
as suddenly as he had come forward. The ex-Mes- 


siah impudently wrote, some days after his conver- 
sion, to his brothers at Smyrna : " God has made 
me an Ishmaelite ; He commanded, and it was done. 
The ninth day of my regeneration." Nearly at the 
same time the rabbis and presidents of schools at 
Amsterdam assembled, and sent a letter of homage 
to Sabbatai Zevi, to testify their belief in and 
submission to him. The semi-Spinozist Dionysius 
(Benjamin) Musaphia, vexed at not being invited, 
wrote a separate letter to Sabbatai Zevi, signed by 
himself and two members of the school (Elul 24th). 
A week later, twenty-four distinguished men of 
Amsterdam sent another letter of homage to the 
apostate Messiah. At their head was Abraham 
Gideon Abudiente. Did these letters reach the 
Mahometan Mehmed Effendi ? At Hamburg, where 
likewise his conversion was not suspected, the bless- 
ing was five times pronounced over the renegade 
Sabbatai, on the Day of Atonement (October o 

But when the rumor of his apostasy went the 
rounds of the communities, and could no longer be 
denied, confidence was succeeded by a bewildering 
sense of disenchantment and shame. The highest 
representative of Judaism had abandoned and be- 
trayed it! Chayim Benvenisti, the rabbi of Smyrna, 
who had invested the false Messiah with authority 
from motives far from honorable, almost died of 
shame. Mahometans and Christians pointed with 
scorn at the blind, credulous Jews. The street boys 
in Turkey openly jeered at Jewish passers-by. But 
this ridicule was not all. So widespread a corn- 
motion could not die out and leave no trace. The 
sultan thought of destroying all the Jews in his 
empire, because they had formed rebellious plans, 
and of ordering all children under seven to be 
brought up in Islamism. The newly converted 
Mahometan, Mehmed Effendi, in order to revenge 
himself, is said to have betrayed his own plans, and 



the consent of the Jews thereto. Two councilors 
and the sultana-mother are reported to have dis- 
suaded the sultan from his design by the observa- 
tion that the Jews ought to be regarded as having 
been misled. Fifty chief rabbis, however, because 
they had neglected their duty in teaching the peop e, 
were to be executed twelve from Constantinople, 
twelve from Smyrna, and the remaining twenty-six 
from the other communities in Turkey. It was re- 
tarded as a special miracle that this resolution re- 
mained a dead letter, and that the Jews did not even 
have to pay a fine. The division in the communities 
mio-ht have had even worse consequences, if the 
unbelievers had heaped scorn and mockery upon 
the late devotees. But the colleges of rabbis in 
the East interposed, and sought to appease and 
reconcile, and threatened to excommunicate any one 
who, by word or deed, offended a former Sabbatian, 
Although men's minds were calmed for the 
moment, it was long before peace was restored. 
After the first surprise at Sabbatai's conversion was 
over, his zealous followers, especially at Smyrna, 
began to recover. They could not persuade them- 
selves that they had really been running after a 
shadow. There must be, or have been, some truth 
in Sabbatai's Messianic claims, since all signs so 
entirely agreed. The Kabbalists easily got over 
objections. Sabbatai had not turned Mahometan ; 
a phantom had played that part, while he himself 
had retired to heaven or to the Ten Tribes, and 
would soon appear again to accomplish the work of 
redemption. As at the time of the origin of Chris- 
tianity mystical believers (Docetae) interpreted the 
crucifixion of Jesus as a phantasm, so now thorough- 
going mystics explained Sabbatai's apostasy from 
Judaism. Others, such as Samuel Primo, Jacob 
Faliachi, Jacob Israel Duchan, who had designed, 
through him, to bring about the fall of Rabbinical Ju- 
daism, and would not abandon their plan lightly, still 


clung to him. The prophets, who had been mani- 
festly ^ proved false through his conversion, were 
most interested in remaining true to him. They did 
not care quietly to renounce their functions and 
withdraw into obscurity, or be laughed at. The 
prophets residing at Smyrna, Constantinople, 
Rhodes, and Chios were silenced; but the itinerant 
prophets, Nathan Ghazatiand Sabbatai Raphael, did 
not choose to abdicate. The former had remained 
in Palestine during Sabbatai's triumph in order to 
be paid homage on his own account. After the 
deception was unmasked he regarded himself as no 
longer safe ; he made preparations to go to Smyrna, 
and continued to send out his mystical, bombastic 
letters. From Damascus he warned the Jews of 
Aleppo by letter not to allow themselves to be dis- 
couraged by strange circumstances in their belief 
in the Messiah; there was a deep mystery shortly to 
be revealed ; but wherein the mystery consisted 
could not yet be disclosed. By these circulars the 
credulous were confirmed afresh in their delusion. 
In Smyrna many synagogues continued to insert the 
blessing for Sabbatai in their prayers. Hence the 
rabbis were obliged to interfere vigorously, especi- 
ally the rabbinate of the Turkish capital. They laid 
under a ban all who should even pronounce the 
name of Sabbatai, or converse with his followers, 
and threatened to hand them over to the secular 
arm. Nathan Ghazati, in particular, was excom- 
municated, and everyone warned against harboring 
him or approaching him (Kislev 12, December 9, 
1666). These sentences of excommunication were 
so far effectual that Nathan could not stay anywhere 
for any length of time, and even in Smyrna he could 
remain only a short time in secret at the house of a 
believer. But the rabbis were not able entirely to 
exorcise the imposture. One of the most zealous 
Sabbatians, probably Samuel Primo, who was ready 
in invention, threw out a more effective suggestion 



than that of the mock conversion. All had been 
ordained as it had come to pass. Precisely by his 
going over to Islam had Sabbatal proved himself 
the Messiah. It was a Kabbalistic mystery which 
some writings had announced beforehand. As the 
first redeemer Moses was obliged to reside for some 
time at Pharaoh's court, not as an Israelite, but to 
all appearance an Egyptian, even so must the last 
redeemer live some time at a heathen court, appar- 
ently a heathen, "outwardly sinful, but inwardly 
pure/' It was Sabbatai's task to free the lost 
emanations of the soul, which pervade evei^ rah - le- 
tans, and by identifying them with himself,'^ it ^re, 
bring them back to the fountain-head. By redeem- 
ing souls in all circles, he was most effectually 
furthering the kingdom of the Messiah. This sug- 
gestion was a lucky hit ; it kindled anew the flame 
of the imposture. It became a watchword for all 
Sabbatians, enabling them, with decency and a show 
of reason, to profess themselves believers, and hold 

Nathan Ghazati also caught up this idea, and was 
encouraged to resume his part as prophet. He had 
fared badly so far ; he had been obliged secretly to 
leave Smyrna, where he had been in hiding several 
months (end of April, 1667). His followers, con- 
sisting of more than thirty men, were dispersed. 
But by this new imposture he recovered courage, 
and approached Adrianople, where Mehmed Effendi 
presided, attended by several of his adherents, who 
as pretended Mahometans lived and made fantastic 
plans with him. The representatives of the Jewish 
community at Constantinople and Adrianople 
rightly feared fresh disturbances from the presence 
of the false prophet, and desired to get rid of him. 
Nathan Ghazati, however," relied on his prophecy, 
which might possibly, he said, be fulfilled at the end 
of the year. He expected the Holy Spirit to de- 
scend upon the renegade Mehmed on the Feast of 


Weeks (Pentecost), and then he also would be able 
to show signs and wonders. Until then, he defiantly 
replied to the deputies, he could entertain no pro- 
positions. When ^ the Feast of Weeks was over, 
the people of Adrianople again urged him to cease 
from his juggleries. After much labor they obtained 
only a written promise to keep at a distance of 
twelve days' journey from the city, not to corres- 
pond with Sabbatai, not to assemble people round 
him, and if by the end of the year the Redeemer did 
not appear, to consider his prophecies false. In 
spite of his written promise, this lying prophet con- 
tinued his agitation, and admonished the Sabbatians 
in Adrianople to make known their continued ad- 
hesion by the suspension of the fast on the i ;th of 
Tammuz. In this city there was a Sabbatian con- 
venticle under the leadership of a former disciple, 
who stood in close connection with Mehmed Effendi. 
The rabbinate of Adrianople did not know how to 
check the mischievous course of this daring sect, 
and were obliged to have recourse to falsehood. 
They announced that the renegade had suddenly 
appeared before the Jewish communal council, had 
repented of his imposture, and laid the blame on 
Nathan and Abraham Yachini, who had made him 
their dupe. In this way the rabbinate succeeded in 
deceiving the Sabbatians. The effect did not last 
long. Nathan on the one hand, and Mehmed 
Effendi's circle on the other, awakened new hope, 
the number of believers again increased, and they 
made a special point of not fasting on the Qth of Ab, 
the birthday of their Messiah. The rabbinates of 
Constantinople and Smyrna sought to repress this 
imposture by the old means excommunication and 
threats of punishment (end of July) but with little 
success. The Sabbatians had a sort of hankering 
after martyrdom in order to seal their faith. The 
false prophet renewed his propagandism. He still 
had some followers, including two Mahometans. 


At Salonica, the home of a swarm of Kabbalists, he 
fared badly. The more easily did he find a hearing 
in the communities of the islands of Chios and Corfu. 
His hopes were however directed principally to 

Here also confusion continued to reign. The first 
news of Sabbatai's defection had not been con- 
firmed, as in consequence of the war in Crete the 
ships of the Christians had been captured by the 
Turks. Thus the Sabbatians were left free to main- 
tain their faith and denounce the report as false, es- 
pecially as encouraging letters arrived from Raphael 
Joseph Chelebi of Cairo and others. The most ab- 
surd stories of Sabbatai's power and dignity at the 
Porte were published in Italy, and found credence. 
Moses Pinheiro, Sabbatai's old companion, Raphael 
Sofino at Leghorn, and the Amsterdam fanatics, 
Isaac Naar and Abraham Pereira, who had gone to 
Italy to search for the Messiah, had a special inter- 
est 'in clinging to straws ; they feared ridicule as 
dupes. The ignorant mountebank and strolling 
prophet, Sabbatai Raphael, from the Morea, then 
residing in Italy, was bent upon deception and fraud, 
and appears to have reaped a good harvest there. 
When at last there could be no doubt of Sabbatai's 
change of religion, Raphael turned his steps to Ger- 
many, where, on account of defective postal arrange- 
ments and the slight intercourse of Jews with the 
outer world, they had only a vague idea of the 
course of events, and took the most foolish stories 
for truth. Sabbatai Raphael was there regarded as 
a prophet ; but, as he expected greater gain from 
the rich Amsterdam community, he betook himself 
thither (September, 1667). Here also the impost- 
ure continued. Ashamed that they, the shrewd 
and educated Portuguese, should have been so sig- 
nally deceived, they at first placed no faith in the 
news of Sabbatai's treachery. Even the rabbis 
Isaac Aboab, Raphael Moses d'Aguilar, and the 


philosophical sceptic Musaphia, remained staunch. 
Justly Jacob Sasportas laughed them to scorn, es- 
pecially Musaphia, on account of his present un- 
shaken faith as contrasted with his former in- 

Meanwhile Nathan Ghazati, the prophet of Gaza, 
was pursuing his mischievous course in Italy. Com- 
ing from Greece, he landed at Venice (end of 
March, 1668), but the rabbinate and the council, who 
had had warning of him, would not allow him to en- 
ter the Ghetto. A Sabbatian interceded for him 
with some Christians of rank, and under such pro- 
tection he could not be expelled. To cure those 
who had shared in the delusion, the rabbinate wrung 
from him a written confession, that his prophecies 
of Sabbatai Zevi's Messiahship rested on a freak of 
his imagination, that he recognized them as such, 
and held ^ them to be idle. This confession was 
printed with an introduction by the rabbinate of 
Venice, in order at last to open the eyes of the Sab- 
batians in Italy. But it was not of much avail. The 
delusion, resting as it did on the Kabbala, was too 
deeply rooted. From Venice Ghazati was sent to 
Leghorn, with the suggestion to render him innocu- 
ous there, where Jews enjoyed more freedom ; but 
Nathan Ghazati secretly escaped to Rome, cut off 
his beard, disguised himself, and is said to have 
thrown notes written in Chaldee into the Tiber, to 
bring about the destruction of Rome. The Jews 
recognized him, and, since they feared danger for 
themselves on papal soil from his fraudulent absurd- 
ities, they procured his banishment. Then he went 
to Leghorn, and found followers there also. Prom- 
ising himself more honor and profit in Turkey, or 
more opportunity to satisfy his restless mind, 
Nathan returned to Adrianople. He did not pay 
great regard to word and oath. Nathan Ghazati 
compiled much Kabbalistic nonsense, but acquired 
no fame. He is said to have died at Sophia, and 


to have been laid in a vault dug by himself (1680). 
Other men appeared at the head of the Sabbatians 
who far surpassed him, and pursued a definite end. 
Sabbatai, or Mehmed Effendi, at this time began 
his revolutionary chimeras afresh. Immediately af- 
ter his apostasy he was obliged, under the direction 
of the mufti Vanni, to acquire Mahometan ways, and 
guard carefully against any appearance of inclina- 
tion to Judaism and the Jews. He therefore figured 
as a pious Mahometan. Gradually he was permit- 
ted greater freedom, and to give utterance to his 
Kabbalistic views about God and the universe. 
Vanni, to whom much was new, heard his expositions 
with curiosity, and the sultan also is said to have 
listened to his words attentively. Probably Sab- 
batai won over some Mahometans to his Kabbalis- 
tic dreams. Weary of quiet, and anxious to play 
an active part again, he once more entered into close 
relations with Jews, and gave out that he had been 
filled anew with the Holy Spirit at Passover (end 
of March, 1668), and had received revelations. Sab- 
bacai, or one of his aiders and abettors, published a 
mystical work (" Five Evidences of the Faith," Saha- 
duta di Mehemnuta) addressed to the Jews and 
couched in extravagant language, in which the fol- 
lowing fantastic views were set forth : Sabbatai had 
been and remained the true Redeemer ; it would 
be easy to prove himself such, if he had not compas- 
sion on Israel, who would have to experience the 
same dreadful sufferings as the Messiah; and he 
only persisted in Mahometanism in order to bring 
thousands and tens of thousands of non-Jews over 
to Israel. To the sultan and the mufti, on the other 
hand, he said that his approximation to the Jews 
was intended to bring them over to Islam. He re- 
ceived permission to associate with Jews, and to 
preach before them at Adrianople, even in syna- 
gogues. Thus he played the part of Jew at one 
time, of Mussulman at another. If Turkish spies 


were present, his Jewish hearers knew how to de- 
ceive them. They threw away their Jewish head- 
dress, and put on the turban. It is probable that 
many Jews were seriously converted to Islam, and 
a Jewish-Turkish sect thus began to form round 
Sabbatai Zevi. The Jews who had hitherto felt such 
horror of apostatizing, that only the outcasts 
amongst them went over to Christianity or Islam, 
became less severe. They said without indignation 
that so and so had adopted the turban. Through 
such jugglery Sabbatians at Adrianople, Smyrna, 
Salonica, and other cities, even in Palestine, allowed 
themselves to be confirmed in their obstinate faith 
in the Messiah. Even pious men, learned in the 
Talmud, continued to adhere to him. 

As though this complication were to become more 
involved, and the Kabbalistic-Messianic disorder 
were to be pursued to its utmost limits, a Sabbatian 
champion unexpectedly appeared in a man of Euro- 
pean culture, not wanting in gifts, Abraham Michael 
Cardoso. He was an original character, a living 
personification of the transformation of the Portu- 
guese Jews after their expulsion. Born of Marrano 
parents in a small town of Portugal, Celarico, in the 
province of Be'ira, Miguel Cardoso, like his elder 
brother Fernando, studied medicine. While the 
latter devoted himself earnestly to science, Miguel 
dawdled away his days amidst the luxury of Madrid, 
sang love-songs with the guitar under the balconies 
of fair ladies, and paid very little heed to Kabbala 
or Judaism. What influenced him to leave Spain 
is not known. Perhaps his more serious and 
thoughtful brother, who, after making a name in 
Spain as a medical and scientific author, out of love 
to Judaism migrated to Venice, where he plunged 
deeply into Jewish literature, infected him with en- 
thusiasm. Both brothers assumed Jewish names 
after their return to the religion of their forefathers. 
The elder, Isaac Cardoso, gave up his name Fer- 


nando ; the younger took the name of Abraham in 
addition to that of Miguel (Michael). Both com- 
posed verses in Spanish. While the elder brother 
led a regular life, guided by moral principles and a 
rational faith, the younger fell under the sway of ex- 
travagant fancy and an eccentric manner of living. 
Isaac Cardoso (born 1615, died after i68o)_ con- 
ferred renown on Judaism, while Abraham Michael 
Cardoso (born about 1630, died 1706) was a dis- 
grace to it. 

The latter lived as a physician at Leghorn, but 
not flourishing he accepted the position of physician 
in ordinary to the Bey of Tripoli. His warm- 
blooded, dissolute nature was a hindrance to his 
advancement. Contrary to the custom of African 
Jews, he married two wives, and instead of employ- 
ing himself with his difficult science, he revolved 
fantastical schemes. Cardoso appears to have been 
initiated into the Kabbala and the Sabbatian delus- 
ion by Moses Pinheiro, who was living at Leghorn. 

He continually had dreams and visions, which in- 
creased in frequency after the public appearance of 
Sabbatai at Smyrna and Constantinople. He com- 
municated his delusion to his wives and domestics, 
who likewise pretended to have seen all sorts of ap- 
paritions. The apostasy of the false Messiah from 
Judaism did not cure Cardoso of his delusion ; he 
remained a zealous partisan, and even justified the 
treachery of the Messiah by saying that it was nec- 
essary for him to be counted among sinners, in or- 
der that he might atone for Israel's sin of idolatry, 
and blot it out. He sent circulars in all directions, 
in order to support the Messianic claim of Sabbatai, 
and figure as a prophet. In vain his more sober 
brother, Isaac Cardoso, warned and ridiculed him, 
asking him ironically, whether he had received the 
gift of prophecy from his former gallantries and 
from playing the guitar for the fair maidens of Mad- 
rid. Abraham Cardoso's frivolity was in no way 


lessened, he even assumed a didactic tone towards 
his grave elder brother, who despised the Kabbala 
as he did alchemy and astrology, and sent him num- 
berless proofs, from the Zohar and other Kabbalistic 
writings, that Sabbatai was the true Messiah, and 
that he must necessarily be estranged from Judaism. 
By his zeal he gained many adherents for the Sab- 
batian delusion in Africa; but he also made enemies, 
and incurred dangers. He continued to prophesy 
the speedy commencement of the Messiah's reign, 
although often proved false by reality. He put off 
the event from year to year, performed Kabbalistic 
tricks, set up a new God for Israel, and at last de- 
clared himself the Messiah of the house of Ephraim, 
until he was rigorously prosecuted by an opponent 
of these vagaries. Cardoso was driven back to his 
former uncomfortable position, forced to lead an 
adventurer's life, and win bread for himself and his 
family, so to speak, by his delusions, going through 
all sorts of jugglery, at Smyrna, at Constantinople, 
in the Greek islands, and at Cairo, and promoting 
the Sabbatian delusions with his abundant knowl- 
edge, eloquent tongue, and ready pen. Thanks to 
his education in Christian schools, he was far super- 
ior to other Sabbatian apostles, and knew how to 
give an air of rationality and wisdom to nonsense, 
thus completely blinding the biased, and stultifying 
even those averse to the Sabbatian movement. 

Encouraged by the support of the Jews, continued 
in spite of his change of religion, Sabbatai persisted 
in keeping up his character as Messiah, and asso- 
ciated more and more with Jews. His weak brain 
had been turned by the overwhelming rush of events, 
and he completely lost balance. At one time he re- 
viled Judaism and the God of Israel with foul words 
of abuse, and is said even to have informed against 
Jews as blasphemers of Islam before Turkish mag- 
istrates. At other times he held divine service ac- 
cording to the Jewish ritual with his Jewish follow- 


ers, sang psalms, expounded the Zohar, ordered 
selections from the Torah to be read on the Sabbath, 
and frequently chose seven virgins for that purpose. 
On account of his constant intercourse with Jews, 
whom he was not able to bring over wholesale to 
Mahometanism, as he may have boastfully asserted, 
Mehmed Effendi is said to have fallen into disfavor, 
forfeited his allowance and been banished from Ad- 
rianople to Constantinople. He finally married 
another wife, the daughter of a man learned in the 
Talmud, Joseph Philosoph of Salonica. ^ The Turk- 
ish patrol having surprised him in a village (Kuru 
Gisme) near Constantinople, while singing psalms 
in a tent with some Jews, and the Bostanji Bashi 
(officer) having reported it, the grand vizir com- 
manded the Kaimakam to banish him to Dulcigno, 
a small town in Albania, where no Jews dwelt. 
There he died, abandoned and forsaken, it was 
afterwards said, on the Day of Atonement, 1676. 

Spinoza, who had likewise broken away from 
Judaism, may well have looked with great contempt 
on this Messianic craze of his contemporaries. If 
he had cared to dig the grave of Judaism and bury 
it, he would have been obliged to recognize Sab- 
batai Zevi, his private secretary, Samuel Primo, and 
his prophets, as allies and abettors. The irration- 
ality of the Kabbala brought Judaism much more 
effectually into discredit than reason and philosophy. 
It is a remarkable fact that neither the one nor the 
other could wean the numerous cultured Jews of 
Amsterdam from the religion of their forefathers, 
so strongly was it rooted in their hearts. At this 
time when two forces of Jewish origin were antago- 
nizing Judaism in the East and the West, the Portu- 
guese community, increased to the number of four 
thousand families, undertook (1671) the building of a 
splendid synagogue, and after some years finished 
the huge work, which had been interrupted by war 
troubles. The dedication of the synagogue (Ab 10, 


August 2, 1675), was celebrated with great solem- 
nity and pomp. Neither the first Temple of Solomon, 
nor the second of Zerubbabel, nor the third of 
Herod, was so much lauded with song and eloquent 
speech as the new one at Amsterdam, called Tal- 
mud Torah. Copper-plate engravings, furnished 
with inscriptions in verse, were published. Chris- 
tians likewise took part in the dedication. They 
advanced money to the Jews in the times of need, 
and a poet, Romein de Hooghe, composed verses 
in honor of the synagogue and the Jewish people in 
Latin, Dutch, and French. 

Spinoza lived to see this rejoicing of the com- 
munity from which he had become a pervert. He 
happened to be at Amsterdam just at the time. 
He was engaged in seeing through the press a 
treatise (Ethics) which reversed the views hitherto 
prevailing, and the second, enlarged edition of his 
other work, chiefly directed against Judaism. He 
may have laughed at the joy of the Amsterdam Jews, 
as idle ; but the building of this synagogue in a city 
which a hundred years before had tolerated no Jews 
.and had supported a Spanish Inquisition, was loud 
testimony of the times, and contradicted many of his 
assertions. He died not long afterwards, or rather, 
passed gently away as with a divine kiss (February 
21, 1677), about five months after Sabbata'i Zevi. 
Against his will he has contributed to the glory of 
the race which he so unjustly reviled. His power- 
ful intellect, logical acumen, and strength of character 
are more and more recognized as properties which 
he owed to the race from which he was descended. 
Among educated Jews, Isaac Orobio de Castro 
alone' attempted a serious refutation of Spinoza's 
philosophical views. Though his intention was good, 
he was too weak to break through the close meshes 
of Spinoza's system. It was left to history to refute 
it with facts. 



Jews under Mahometan Rulers Expulsion from Vienna Jews ad- 
mitted by Elector Frederick William into the Mark of Branden- 
burgCharge of Child-murder in Metz Milder Treatment ot 
Jews throughout Europe Christian Champions of the Jews : 
Jurieu, Oliger Pauli, and Moses Germanus Predilection of 
Christians for the Study of Jewish LiteratureRichard Simon 
Interest taken by Charles XI in the Karaites Peringer and 
Jacob Trigland German Attacks on Judaism by Wulfer, 
Wagenseil, and Eisenmenger Circumstances of the Publication 
of Judaism Unmasked The. Alenu Prayer Surenhuysius, 
Basnage, Unger, Wolf, and Tolancl. 

16691700 c. E. 

THE princes and nations of Europe and Asia 
showed great consideration in not disturbing the 
Messianic farce of the Jews, who were quietly al- 
lowed to make themselves ridiculous. A pause had 
come in the constantly recurring persecution of the 
Jews, which did not, however, last very long. The 
regular succession of accusations, vexations, and 
banishments soon re-commenced. The contrast 
between the followers of Mahomet and those of 
Jesus is very striking. In Turkey the Jews were 
free from persecution, in spite of their great excite- 
ment, and absurd dreams of a national Messiah. In 
Africa, Sid Gailand and later Muley Arshid, sultan 
of Tafilet, Fez,' and Morocco, oppressed the Jews, 
partly on account of their activity, partly from 
rapacity. But this ceased with the next sovereign, 
Muley Ismail. He was a patron of the Jews, and 
entrusted several with important posts. He had 
two Jewish advisers, Daniel Toledano of Miquenes, 
a friend of Jacob Sasportas, a Talmudist and 
experienced in state affairs, and Joseph Maimaran, 
likewise from Miquenes. 



Within Christendom, on the contrary, Jews were 
esteemed and treated as men only in Holland ; in 
other states they were regarded as outcasts, who 
had no rights, and no claim to compassion. Spain 
again led the way in decreeing banishments. That 
unfortunate country, becoming more and more de- 
populated through despotism, superstition, and the 
Inquisition, was then ruled by a foolish, fanatical 
woman, the dowager-regent Maria Anna of Austria, 
who had made her father-confessor, the German 
Jesuit Neidhard, inquisitor-general and minister 
with unlimited powers. Naturally, no toleration 
of other religions could be suffered at this big- 
oted court. There were still Jews in some parts 
of the monarchy, in the north-western corner of 
Africa, in Oran, Maxarquivir, and other cities. Many 
had rendered considerable services to the Spanish 
crown, in times of peace and war, against the native 
Arabs, or Moors, who endured with inward rage the 
dominion of the cross. The families of Cansino and 
Sasportas, the former royal interpreters, or drago- 
mans, for the province of Oran, had distinguished 
themselves especially by their fidelity and devotion 
to Spain ; and their conduct had been recognized by 
Philip IV, the husband of Maria Anna, in a special 
letter. Nevertheless, the queen-dowager suddenly 
ordered the banishment of the Jews from the dis- 
trict, because she could no longer tolerate people 
of this race in her realm. At the urgent request of 
Jewish grandees the governor allowed the Jews 
eight days' grace during the Passover, and admit- 
ted that they were banished, not because of mis- 
conduct or treason, but simply on account of the re- 
gent's intolerance (end of April, 1669). They were 
obliged to sell their possessions in haste at ridicu- 
lous prices. The exiles settled in the district of 
Savoy, at Villafranca, near Nice. 

Like mother, like daughter. At about this time 
the banishment of Jews from Vienna and the arch- 


duchy of Austria was decreed at the instigation of 
the daughter of the Spanish regent, the empress 
Margaret, an ally of the Jesuits. The emperor ^did 
not easily allow himself to be prejudiced against 
Jews, from whom he derived a certain revenue. The 
community of Vienna alone, grown to nearly two 
thousand souls, paid a yearly tax of 10,000, and the 
country community of 4,000, florins. Including the 
income from Jews in other places, the emperor re- 
ceived from them 50,000 florins annually. But an em- 
press need not trouble herself about finance; she can 
follow the inclinations of her heart, and Margaret's 
heart, filled with Jesuitism, hated Jews profoundly, 
and her father-confessor strengthened the feeling. 
Having met with an accident at a ball, she wished 
to testify her gratitude to heaven which had wonder- 
fully preserved her, and could find no means more 
acceptable to God than the misery of Jews. More 
urgently than before she entreated her imperial con- 
sort to banish from the capital and the country the 
Jews, described by her father-confessor as outcasts 
of hell, and she received his promise. With trumpet- 
sound it was made known in Vienna (February 14, 
1670) that by the emperor's command the Jews were 
to quit the city within a few months on pain of death. 
They left no measure untried to avert the stroke. 
Often before had similar resolutions been recalled 
by Austrian emperors. The Jews cited the privi- 
leges accorded them in writing, and the services 
which they had rendered the imperial house. They 
offered large sums of money (there were very rich 
court Jews at Vienna), used the influence of persons 
connected with the court, and, after a solemn service 
in honor of the recovery of the emperor from sick- 
ness, presented him as he left the church with a large 
gold cup, and the empress with a handsome silver 
basin and jug. The presents were accepted, but the 
command was not recalled. 

At Vienna and at the court there was no prospect 


of it change of purpose ; the Jesuits had the upper 
hand through the empress and her confessor. The 
community of Vienna in despair thought to avert 
the evil by another, roundabout course. The Jews 
of Germany had felt sincere sympathy for their 
brethren, and had implored heaven by prayer and 
fasting to save them. The Jews of Vienna could 
count confidently upon their zeal. Therefore, in a 
pitiful letter to the most influential and perhaps the 
richest Jew of that time, Isaac (Manoel) Texeira, the 
esteemed agent of Queen Christina, they begged 
him to exert his influence with temporal and church 
princes, through them to make Empress Margaret 
change her mind. Texeira had previously taken 
active steps in that direction, and he promised to 
continue them. He had written to some Spanish 
grandees with whom he stood in close connection to 
use their influence with the empress's confessor. 
The queen of Sweden, who, after her romantic con- 
version to Catholicism, enjoyed great esteem in the 
Catholic world, led Texeira to hope that, by letters 
addressed to the papal nuncio, to the empress, and 
to her mother, the Spanish regent, she might pre- 
vent the banishment of the Austrian Jews. The 
Jews of Rome also did their part to save their 
threatened brethren. But all these efforts led to 
nothing. Unhappily there had just been a papal 
election at Rome after the death of Clement IX, so 
that the head of the church, though Jews were toler- 
ated in his states, could not be prevailed upon to 
assume a decided attitude. Emperor Leopold re- 
mained firm, and disposed of the houses of the Jews 
before they had left them. He was only humane 
enough to order, under pain of severe punishment, 
that no harm be done to the departing Jews. 

So the Jews had to submit to the iron will of nec- 
essity, and grasp their pilgrims' staffs. When 1,400 
souls had fallen into distress, or at least into an 
anxious plight, and many had succumbed, the re- 


mainder, more than three hundred, again petitioned 
the emperor, recounting the services of Jews to the 
imperial house, and showing all the accusations 
against them to be groundless, at all events not 
proven. They did not shrink from declaring that 
to be a Jew could not be called a crime, and pro- 
tested that they ought to be treated as Roman cit- 
izens, who ought not to be summarily expelled. 
They begged at least for a respite until the next 
meeting of the Reichstag. Even this petition, in 
which they referred to the difficulty of finding a ref- 
uge, if the emperor, the ruler of half of Europe, 
rejected them, remained without effect. All had to 
depart ; only one family, that of the court factor, 
Marcus Schlesinger Jaffa, was allowed to remain in 
Vienna, on account of services rendered. The 
Jesuits were full of joy, and proclaimed the praise 
of God in a gradual. The magistrates bought the 
Jews' quarter from the emperor for 100,000 florins, 
and called it Leopoldstadt in his honor. The site 
of the synagogue was used for a church, of which 
the emperor laid the corner-stone (August 18, 1670) 
in honor of his patron saint. A golden tablet was 
to perpetuate the shameful deeds of the Jews : 

" After the Jews were banished, the emperor caused their syna- 
gogue, which had been as a charnel-house, to be made into a house 
of God." 

The tablet, however, only proves the mental 
weakness of the emperor and his people. The Tal- 
mud school (Beth ha-Midrash) was likewise con- 
verted into a church, and named in honor of the 
empress and her patron saint. 

But this dark picture had also its bright side. A 
struggling state, which hitherto had not tolerated 
the Jews, now became a new, though not very hos- 
pitable, home, where the Jewish race was rejuvena- 
ted. The Austrian exiles dispersed in various 
directions. Many sought protection in Moravia, 


Bohemia, and Poland. Others went to Venice and as 
far as the Turkish frontiers, others turned to Furth, 
in Bavaria. Fifty families were received by Elector 
Frederick William, in the Mark of Brandenburg. 
This great prince, who laid the solid foundation for 
the future greatness of the Prussian monarchy, was 
not more tolerant than other princes of Louis XIV's 
century ; but he was more clear-sighted than Em- 
peror Leopold, and recognized that a sound state 
of finances is essential to the prosperity of a state, 
and that Jews retained somewhat of their old renown 
as financiers. In the Mark of Brandenburg no Jew 
had been allowed to dwell for a hundred years, since 
their expulsion under Elector John George. Fred- 
erick William himself took the step so difficult for 
many; he wrote (April, 1670) to his ambassador, 
Andrew Neumann, at Vienna, that he was inclined 
to receive into the electoral Mark from forty to fifty 
prosperous Jewish families of the exiles from Vienna 
under certain conditions and limitations. The con- 
ditions, made known a year later, proved in many 
points very harsh, but were more favorable than in 
other Protestant countries, as, for instance, in the 
bigoted city of Hamburg. The Jews might settle 
where they pleased in Brandenburg and in the duchy 
of Crossen, and might trade everywhere without 
hindrance. The burgomasters were directed to 
place no impediment in the way of their settlement 
and not to molest them. Every family had to pay 
eight thalers a year as a protective tax, a gold florin 
for every marriage, and the same for every funeral ; 
on the other hand, they were freed from the poll-tax 
throughout the country. They might buy and build 
houses, on condition that after the expiration of a 
term they sell them to Christians. They were not 
permitted to have synagogues, but could have 
prayer-rooms, and appoint a school-master and a 
butcher (Shochet). This charter of protection was 
valid for only twenty years, but a prospect was held 



out that it would be prolonged by the elector or his 
successor. Of these fifty Austrian families, some 
seven settled in Berlin, and formed the foundation 
of the community afterwards so large and influential. 
One step led to another. Frederick William also 
admitted rich Jews from Hamburg, Glogau, and 
other cities, and thus communities sprang up at 
Landsberg and Frankfort-on-the-Oder. 

It is evident that Frederick William admitted the 
Jews purely from financial considerations. But he 
occasionally showed unselfish good-will towards 
some. When he agreed to the quixotic plan of 
Skytte, a Swedish royal councilor, to found, at Tan- 
germlinde in the Mark, a university for all sciences 
and an asylum for persecuted savants, he did not 
fail, according to his programme, to admit into this 
Athens of the Mark, Jewish men of learning, as well 
as Arabs and unbelievers of every kind, but on con- 
dition that they should keep their errors to them- 
selves, and not spread them abroad. 

At another spot in Christian Europe a few rays 
of light pierced the darkness. About the same time 
that the Jews were expelled from Vienna, a false ac- 
cusation, which might have had far-reaching conse- 
quences, cropped up against the Jews of a city re- 
cently brought under French rule. In Metz, a con- 
siderable community had developed in the course 
of a century from four Jewish families, and had ap- 
pointed its own rabbi since the beginning of the 
seventeenth century. The Jews of Metz behaved 
so well that King Louis XIV publicly declared his 
satisfaction with them, and renewed their privileges. 
But as Metz at that time still had a German popu- 
lation, narrow guilds continued to exist, and these 
insisted upon limiting the Jews in their occupations. 
Thwarted by the magistrates, some of them roused 
in the populace a burning hatred of the Jews. A 
peasant had lost a child, and the news was quickly 
spread that the Jews had killed it to practice sorcery 


with its flesh. The accusation was brought specifically 
against a peddler, Raphael Levi. Scraps of paper 
with Hebrew letters, written by him during his im- 
prisonment, served as proofs of his guilt. A bap- 
tized Jew, Paul du Vallie (Vallier, formerly Isaac), 
son of a famous physician in that district, with the 
aid of another Jewish convert, translated the scraps 
to the disadvantage of the accused. 
^ Du Vallie had literally been decoyed into Chris- 
tianity, and changed into a bitter enemy of his 
former co-religionists. He had been a good son, 
adored by his parents. He had also been a pious 
Jew, and^ had declared to two tempters who had 
tried to influence him to apostatize from Judaism 
that he would sooner be burned. Nevertheless, the 
priests continued their efforts until they induced him 
to accept Christianity. The news of his baptism 
broke the heart of his mother, Antoinette. A touch- 
ing letter to her son, in French, is still extant, in 
which she entreats him to return to Judaism. Du 
Vallie however refused, and proved himself besides 
to be a bad man and a traitor. He brought false 
evidence against the poor accused Jew. Accord- 
ingly, Raphael Levi was stretched on the rack, and, 
though he maintained his innocence in the tone of 
convincing truth, he was condemned by the Metz 
parliament, and put to death with torture, which he 
resolutely bore (January, 1670). The parliament 
intended to continue the persecution. The enemies 
of the Jews, moreover, caused a document on the 
subject to be printed and widely circulated, in order 
to produce the proper effect. But the Metz com- 
munity found a supporter in a zealous fellow-believer, 
Jonah Salvador, a tobacco dealer, of Pignerol. He 
was learned in the Talmud, and a follower of Sab- 
batai Zevi. Richard Simon, an eager student, 
sought him out in order to study Hebrew under his 
guidance. Jonah Salvador managed to interest this 
Father of the Oratory in the Metz community, and 


inspired him to draw up a vindication of the Jews 
respecting child-murder. The tobacco merchant of 
Pignerol delivered this document to persons at court 
whose word had weight, and this turned the scale. 
The king s council ordered the records of the Metz 
parliament to be sent in, and decided (end of 1671) 
that judicial murder had been committed in the case 
of Raphael Levi. Louis XIV ordered that hence- 
forth criminal charges against Jews be brought be- 
fore the king's council. 

Inhuman treatment of Jews, banishment, false ac- 
cusations against them, and massacres did not actu- 
ally cease, but their number and extent diminished. 
This phenomenon was a consequence of the increas- 
ing civilization of the European capitals, but a grow- 
ing predilection for the Jews and their brilliant liter- 
ature had a share in their improved treatment. Ed- 
ucated Christians, Catholics as well as Protestants, 
and sober, unbiased men, whose judgment had 
weight, began to be astonished at the continued 
existence of this people. How was it that a people, 
persecuted for ten centuries and more, trampled 
under foot, and treated like a pack of venomous or 
noisome beasts a people without a home, whom all 
the world treated roughly how was it that this 
people still existed not only existed, but formed a 
compact body, separate from other peoples, even in 
its subjection too proud to mingle with more power- 
ful nations ? Numerous writers appeared as apol- 
ogists for the Jews, urging their milder treatment, 
and appealing earnestly to Christians not to destroy 
or disfigure this living marvel. Many went very far 
in their enthusiasm for the Jews. The Huguenot 
preacher, Pierre Jurieu, at Rotterdam, wrote a book 
(1685) on "The Fulfillment of Prophecy/' in which 
he expounded the future greatness of the Jews as 
certain that God had kept this nation for Himself 
in order to do great wonders for it : the true Anti- 
christ was the persecution of Jews. A Dane, Oliger 


(Holger) Pauli, displayed over-zealous activity for 
the return of the Jewish people to their former 
country. As a youth, he had had visions of the 
coming greatness of Israel, in which he also was to 
play a part. Oliger Pauli was so fond of the Jewish 
race that, although descended from Christian an- 
cestors of noble rank, he always gave out that he 
had^ sprung from Jewish stock. He had amassed 
millions as a merchant, and spent them lavishly* on 
his hobby, the return of the Jews to Palestine. He 
sent mystical letters to King William III of England 
and the dauphin of France to induce them to under- 
take the assembling and restoration of the Jews. To 
the dauphin the Danish enthusiast plainly declared 
that by zeal for the Jews, France might atone for 
her bloody massacre of St. Bartholomew and the 
dragonnades. John Peter Speeth of Augsburg, 
born of Catholic parents at Vienna, went still farther 
in his enthusiasm for Jews and Judaism. After 
writing a pamphlet in honor of Catholicism, he went 
over to the Socinians and Mennonites, and at last 
became a Jew at Amsterdam, and took the name of 
Moses Germanus (died April 17, 1702). He con- 
fessed that precisely the false accusations against 
Jews had inspired him with disgust for Christianity. 

" Even at the present time much of the same sort of thing happens 
in Poland and Germany, where circumstantial tales are told and songs 
sung in the streets, how the Jews have murdered a child, and sent the 
blood to one another in quills for the use of their women in childbirth. 
I have discovered this outrageous fraud in time, and abandoned Chris- 
tianity, which can permit such things, in order to have no share in it, 
nor be found with those who trample under foot Israel, the first begot- 
ten Son of God, and shed his blood like water." 

Moses Germanus was Paul reversed. The latter 
as a Christian, became a zealous despiser of Juda- 
ism ; the former, as a Jew, an equally fanatical op- 
ponent of Christianity. He regarded its origin as 
gross fraud. One cannot even now write all that 
Moses Germanus uttered about the teaching of 
Jesus. He was not the only Christian who at this 


time "from love for Judaism" exposed himself to 
the painful operation and still keener shame and 
reproach of circumcision. In one year three Chris- 
tians, in free Amsterdam to be sure, went over to 
Judaism, amongst them a student from Prague. 

Even more than the anticipated greatness of Is- 
rael, Jewish literature attracted learned Christians, 
and inspired them with a sort of sympathy for the 
people out of whose mine such treasures came. 
The Hebrew language was studied by Christians 
even more than in the beginning of the seventeenth 
century. In the middle and towards the close of 
that century Hebrew Rabbinical literature was most 
eagerly searched, translated into Latin or modern 
languages, quoted, utilized, and applied. "Jewish 
learning" was, not as before a mere ornament, but 
an indispensable element, of learning. It was re- 
garded as a disgrace for Catholic and Protestant 
theologians to be ignorant of Rabbinical lore, and 
the ignorant could defend themselves only by abus- 
ing these Hebraists as semi-rabbis. 

The first Catholic critic, Father Richard Simon, 
of the congregation of the Oratory at Paris, con- 
tributed very much to the high esteem in which the 
Jews and their literature were held. This man, who 
laid the foundation of a scientific, philological, and 
exegetical study of the Old and New Testament, in- 
vestigated Jewish writings with great zeal, and uti- 
lized them for his purpose. He was gifted with a 
keen understanding, which unconsciously led him 
beyond the limits of Catholic doctrine. Spinoza's 
criticism of the Bible induced him to make original 
inquiries, and since, as a genuine Frenchman, he 
was endowed with sound sense rather than meta- 
physical imagination, he was more successful, and 
his method is thoroughly scientific. Richard Simon 
was disgusted with the biblical exegesis of the Prot- 
estants, who were wont to support their wisdom and 
their stupidity with verses of Holy Scripture. He 


undertook, therefore, to prove that the biblical 
knowledge and biblical exegesis of the Protestant 
church, on which it prided itself before Catholics and 
Jews, was mere mist and error, because it mistook 
the sense of the original text, and had no conception 
of the historical background, the coloring of time and 
place, of the books of the Bible, and in this ignor- 
ance multiplied absurd dogmas. 

" You Protestants appeal to the pure word of God to do battle 
against the Catholic tradition ; I intend to withdraw the ground from 
under you, and to leave you, so to speak, with. your legs dangling in 
the air." 

Richard Simon was the predecessor of Reimarus 
and David Strauss. The Catholics applauded him 
even the mild Bishop Bossuet, who at first had 
opposed him from conceit not dreaming that they 
were nourishing a serpent in their bosom. In his 
master-piece, "The Critical History of The Old 
Testament," he set himself to prove that the written 
word in no way suffices for faith. Richard Simon 
appreciated with a master's eye, as no one before 
him, the wide extent of a new science biblical crit- 
icism. Although he criticised freely, he proceeded 
apologetically, vindicated the sacred character of the 
Bible, and repelled Spinoza's attacks upon its trust- 
worthiness. Richard Simon's writings, which were 
composed not in Latin, but in the vernacular, were 
marked by a certain elegance of style, and attracted 
well-deserved attention. They form an agreeable 
contrast to the chaos of oppressive learning of the 
time, and have an insinuative air about them. 
Hence they were eagerly read by the educated 
classes, even by women. Simon accorded much 
space to Jewish literature, and subjoined a list of 
Jewish writers. By this means Rabbinical literature 
became known to the educated more than through 
the efforts of Reuchlin, Scaliger, the two Buxtorfs, 
and the learned men of Holland who wrote in Latin. 

To gain a comprehensive knowledge of this litera- 


ture, Richard Simon was obliged, like Reuchlin 
before him, to seek intercourse with Jews ^ in parti- 
cular he associated with Jonah Salvador, tne Italian 
Sabbatian. By this means he lost a part of his 
prejudice against Jews, which still existed in France 
in its intensity. He was drawn to Jews in another 
direction. Laying stress on Catholic tradition as 
opposed to the literal belief of the Protestants, he 
felt in some degree related to the Talmudists 
and Rabbanites. They also upheld their tradition 
against the literal belief of the Karaites. Richard 
Simon, therefore, exalted Rabbinical Judaism in the 
introduction and supplements which he added to his 
translation of Leon Modena's "Rites." Familiar 
with the whole of Jewish literature as few of his 
time or of a later period, Richard Simon refrained 
from making the boastful assertion, grounded upon 
ignorance, that Christianity is something peculiar, 
fundamentally different to Judaism and far more 
exalted. He recognized, and had the courage to 
declare, the truth that Christianity in its substance 
and form was molded after the pattern of Judaism, 
and would have to become like it again. 

" Since the Christian religion has its origin in Judaism, I doubt not 
that the perusal of this little book (the 'Rites ' ) will contribute to the 
understanding of the New Testament, on account of its similarity to, 
and close connection with the Old. They who composed it were 
Jews, and it can be explained only by means of Judaism. A portion 
of our ceremonies also are derived from the Jews .... The Chris- 
tian religion has this besides in common with the Jewish, that each is 
based on Holy Scripture, on the tradition of the fathers, on traditional 

habits and customs One cannot sufficiently admire the 

modesty and devotion of the Jews, as they go to prayer in the morn- 
ing The Jews distinguish themselves, not only by prayers, but 

also by deeds of mercy, and one thinks one sees, in their sympathy 
for the poor, the image of the love of the first Christians for their 
brethren. Men obeyed in those times what the Jews have retained to 
this day, while we (Christians) have scarcely kept up the remem- 
brance of it." 

Richard Simon almost deplored that the Jews, 
formerly so learned in France, who looked upon 
Paris as their Athens, had been driven out of that 


country. He defended them against the accusation 
of their hatred of Christians, and emphasized the 
fact that they pray for the welfare of the state and 
its princes. His predilection for tradition went so 
far, that he maintained that the college of* cardinals 
at Rome, the supreme court of Christendom, was 
formed on the pattern of the Synhedrion at Jerusa- 
lem, and that the pope corresponded to the presi- 
dent, the Nassi. Whilst he compared the Catholics 
to the Rabbanites, he called the Protestants Kara- 
ites, and jestingly wrote to his Protestant friends, 
" My dear Karaites." It has been mentioned that 
Richard Simon interested himself zealously in the 
Jews of Metz, when they were accused of murdering 
a Christian child. When other opportunities offered, 
he defended the Jews against false accusations and 
suspicions. A baptized Jew, Christian Gerson, who 
had become a Protestant pastor, at the beginning of 
the seventeenth century, in order to vilify the 
Talmud, had made extracts in the shape of ridiculous 
legends, printed and published in many editions. 
Richard Simon wrote to a Swiss, about to translate 
these German extracts into French, that Gerson was 
not guiltless of having passed off plays upon words 
and purely allegorical expressions in the Talmud as 
serious narratives. Gerson imputed to the whole 
Jewish nation certain errors, accepted only by the 
credulous, unable to distinguish fiction from fact, and 
he, therefore, abused the Talmud. It must not be 
forgotten that it was a distinguished ecclesiastic, 
moreover, a sober, moderate man, who spoke thus 
favorably of Judaism. His books and letters, writ- 
ten in a lively French style, and much read by the 
educated world, gained many friends for Judaism, 
or at least lessened the number of its enemies. The 
official Catholic world, however, appears to have 
reprimanded this eulogist of Judaism, and Richard 
Simon, who loved peace, was obliged partially to 
recant his praises. 


"I have said too much good of this wretched nation, and through 
intercourse with some of them I have since learned to know them." 

This cannot have been spoken from his heart, for 
he was not wont to judge a whole class of men 
by a few individuals. 

The attention paid to Jews and their literature by 
Christian scholars and princes here and there pro- 
duced droll occurrences. In Sweden, the most big- 
oted Protestant country, no Jew and no Catholic were 
allowed to dwell. Nevertheless King Charles XI 
felt extraordinary interest in the Jews, still more in 
the Karaites, who pretended to follow the simple 
word of God without the accretion of traditions, and 
were said to bear great resemblance to the Protes- 
tants. Would it not be easy to bring over to 
Christianity these people who were not entangled in 
the web of the Talmud ? Charles XI accordingly 
sent a professor of Upsala, learned in Hebrew 
literature, Gustavus Peringer of Lilienblad (about 
1690), to Poland for the purpose of seeking out the 
Karaites, informing himself of their manner of life 
and their customs, and especially buying their writ- 
ings without regard to cost. Provided with letters 
of recommendation to the king of Poland, Peringer 
went first to Lithuania, where dwelt several Karaite 
communities. But the Polish and Lithuanian Kara- 
ites were even more degraded than their brethren 
in Constantinople, the Crimea, and Egypt. There 
were very few among them who knew any details 
about their origin and the history of their sect ; not 
one had accurate information. At about this time 
the Polish king, John Sobieski, had ordered, through 
a Karaite judge, Abraham ben Samuel of Trok, who 
was in favor with him, that the Karaites, for some 
unknown object, scatter from their headquarters of 
Trok, Luzk, and Halicz, and settle also in other 
small towns ; they obeyed, and dispersed as far as 
the northern province of Samogitia. These Polish 
Karaites, cut off from their center, isolated, avoid- 


ing intercourse with rabbis, and mixing only with the 
Polish 1 rustic population, became more and more 
boorish, and sank into profound lethargy. 

Whether Peringer even partially fulfilled the wish 
of his king is not known ; probably he altogether 
failed in his mission. Some years later (1696-1697), 
two learned Swedes, probably also commissioned 
by Charles XI, traveled in Lithuania to visit Kara- 
ite communities and buy up their writings. At the 
same time they invited Karaites to visit Sweden, 
and give information respecting their doctrines. 
Zeal for conversion had certainly more share in the 
matter than curiosity about the unknown. A young 
Karaite, Samuel ben Aaron, who had settled at 
Poswol in Samogitia, and understood some Latin, 
resolved to make a journey to Riga, and hold a 
conference with John Puffendorf, a royal official. 
Through want of literary sources and the ignorance 
of the Karaites concerning the origin and develop- 
ment of their sect, Samuel ben Aaron could give 
only a scanty account in a work, the title of which 
proves that fancifulness had penetrated also to 
Karaite circles. 

From another side the Karaites were the object 
of eager inquiry. A professor at Leyden, Jacob 
Trigland, fairly well acquainted with Hebrew litera- 
ture, who intended to write a book about the old 
Jewish sects, no longer in existence, had his atten- 
tion directed to the still existing Karaites. Inspired 
by the wish to get information concerning the Polish 
Karaites and obtain possession of their writings, he 
sent a letter with various questions through well- 
known mercantile houses to Karaites, to which he 
solicited an answer. This letter accidentally fell 
into the hands of a Karaite, Mordecai ben Nissan, 
at Luzk, a poor official of the community, who did 
not know enough to give the desired information as 
to the beginning and cause of the schism between 
Rabbanites and Karaites. He regarded it as a 


point of honor to avail himself of this opportunity 
to bring the forgotten Karaites to the remembrance 
of the educated world through the instrumentality 
of a Christian writer, and to deal blows at their 
opponents, the Rabbanite Jews. He spared ^ no 
sacrifice to procure the few books by which he might 
be able to instruct himself and his correspondent 
Trigland. These materials, however, were not worth 
much, and Mordecai's dissertation for Trigland 
proved unsatisfactory, but for want of a better work 
it had the good fortune to serve during nearly a 
century and a half as the only source for the history 
of Karaism. Some years later, when Charles XII, 
the hero of the north, conquered Poland in his victor- 
ious career, and like his father was anxious to have 
more precise intelligence respecting Karaites, he 
also made inquiries concerning them. Mordecai 
ben Nissan used this occasion to compose a work in 
Hebrew for Charles XII, in which he freely indulged 
his hatred against Rabbanites, and strained every 
nerve to make Talmudical literature ridiculous. 

The zealous attention paid by Christian scholars 
to Jewish literature could not fail to cause annoyance 
and inconvenience to Jews. They felt sorely bur- 
dened by German Protestant literati, who, acquiring 
cumbersome learning, strove to rival the Dutch 
writers and Richard Simon in France, without pos- 
sessing their mild and gentle toleration towards 
Jews, or their elegance of style. Almost at the same 
time three German Hebraists, Wiilfer, Wagenseil, 
and Eisenmenger, used their knowledge of Hebrew 
literature to bring accusations against the Jews. All 
three associated much with Jews, learned from them, 
and devoted much study to Jewish literature, mas- 
tering it to a certain degree. 

John Wiilfer of Nuremberg, who was educated for 
the church, and had studied with a Jew of Fiirth and 
afterwards in Italy, thoroughly acquainting himself 
with biblical and Talmudical literature, sought after 

CH - v - THE "ALENU" PRAYER. 185 

Hebrew manuscripts and old Jewish prayer-books 
to found an accusation against the Jews. Christians, 
instigated by baptized Jews, took offense at a beau- 
tiful prayer (Alenu), which arose in a time and 
country in which Christianity was little known. 
Some Jews were wont to add a sentence to this 
prayer : For they (the heathen) pray unto vanity 
and emptiness." In the word " emptiness," enemies 
of the Jews pretended to see an allusion to Jesus 
and to find blasphemy against him. The sentence 
was not printed in the prayer-books, but in many 
copies a blank space was left for it. This vacant 
space, or the presence of the obnoxious word, 
equally enraged the Protestants, and Wiilfer, there- 
fore, searched libraries to find authority for it, and 
when he found the word in manuscripts, he did not 
fail to publish his discovery. He praised Prince 
George of Hesse because he made his Jews swear 
an oath never to utter a blasphemous word against 
Jesus, and threatened to punish them with death in 
case of transgression. Wulfer, on the other hand, 
was candid enough to confess that the Jews had 
been long and cruelly persecuted by Christians, that 
the accusation against them of using blood was a 
mischievous invention, and that the testimony of 
baptized Jews deserved little credence. 

John Christopher Wagenseil, a lawyer and pro- 
fessor at Altorf, was a good-hearted man, and kindly 
disposed towards the Jews. He had traveled 
farther than Wulfer, had penetrated through Spain 
into Africa, and took the greatest pains to hunt up 
such Jewish writings as attacked Christianity from 
the ground of Holy -Scripture or with the weapons 
of reason. His discoveries filled his quiver " with 
the fiery darts of Satan." Wagenseil looked up 
that insipid compilation of the magical miracles of 
Jesus (Toldoth Jesho), with which a Jew, who had 
been persecuted by Christians, tried to revenge 
himself on the founder of Christianity, and he spent 


much money in hunting up this Hebrew parody of 
the Gospel. Few Jews possessed copies of it, and 
the owners kept them under lock and key for their 
own security. Because one Jew had once written 
these absurdities about Jesus, and some Jews had 
copies of the book in their possession, while others 
had defended themselves against attacks by Chris- 
tians, Wagenseil felt assured that the Jews of his 
time were vile blasphemers of Jesus. He therefore 
implored the princes and civil magistrates to forbid 
the Jews most strictly to continue such blasphemy. 
He directed a pamphlet, "The Christian Denuncia- 
tion," to all high potentates, urging them to impose 
a formal oath upon Jews, not to utter any word of 
mockery against Jesus, Mary, the cross, the mass, 
and other Christian sacraments. Wagenseil had 
two pious wishes besides. One was that the Prot- 
estant princes should take active steps for the con- 
version of the Jews. He had, it is true, convinced 
himself that at Rome, where since the time of Pope 
Gregory XIII a Dominican monk was wont on cer- 
tain Sabbaths to hold forth, in a sleepy manner, be- 
fore a number of Jews, they either ignored him or 
mocked at him. But he thought that the Protestant 
princes, more zealous Christians than the Catholics, 
ought to devise a better plan. It also grieved this 
thorough scholar that the colleges of rabbis pre- 
sumed to criticise writings concerning the Jewish 
religion, and that they ventured to express their ap- 
proval or disapproval ; this was an infringement of 
the rights and the dignity of Christians ! Withal 
Wagenseil, as has been said, was kindly disposed 
to the Jews. He remarked with emphasis that he 
thought it wrong and unworthy to burn Jews, to rob 
them of all their property, or to drive them with their 
wives and children out of the country. It was ex- 
cessively cruel that in Germany and other countries 
children of Jews should be baptized against the will 
of their parents, and compelled to accept Christian- 


ity. The oppressions and insults to which they were 
exposed at the hands of the Christian rabble were 
by no means to be approved. It was not right that 
they were compelled to say " Christ is risen," that 
they were assailed with blows, had dirt and stones 
thrown at them, and were not allowed to go about 
in safety. Wagenseil wrote a pamphlet to expose 
the horrible falsehood of the charge, that the Jews 
use the blood of Christians. For the sake of this 
pamphlet, which spoke so warmly for the Jews, his 
other absurdities should be pardoned. Wagenseil 
expressed his indignation at the horrible lie : 

" It might pass if the matter stopped with idle gossip ; but that on 
account of this execrable falsehood Jews have been tormented, pun- 
ished, and executed by thousands, should have moved even stones to 
compassion, and made them cry out." 

Is it credible that in the face of this judgment, 
spoken with firm conviction by Wiilfer and Wagen- 
seil, who not only had associated with Jews for 
years, but were accurately acquainted with Jewish 
literature, and had penetrated into its innermost re- 
cesses as none before them, their contemporaries 
should seriously revive the horrible falsehood, and 
justify it with ostentatious learning? A Protestant, 
John Andrew Eisenmenger, professor of Oriental 
languages, repeated the accusation, a thousand times 
branded as false, and furnished posterity with abund- 
ant material for charges against the Jews. Eisen- 
menger belonged to the class of insects which sucks 
poison even out of flowers. In confidential converse 
with Jews, pretending that he desired to be con- 
verted to Judaism, and in the profound study of 
their literature, which he learned from them, he 
sought only the dark side of both. 

He compiled a venomous book in two volumes, 
the title of which in itself was an invitation to Chris- 
tians to massacre the Jews, and was synonymous 
with a repetition of earlier scenes of horror for the 


"Judaism Unmasked ; or a Thorough and True Account of the 
Way in which the Stubborn Jews frightfully blaspheme and dishonor 
the Holy Trinity, revile the Holy Mother of Christ, mockingly criticise 
the New Testament, the Evangelists, the Apostles, and the Christian 
Religion, and despise and curse to the Uttermost Extreme the whole 
of Christianity. Much else besides, either not at all or very little 
known, and Gross Errors of the Jewish Religion and Theology, as 
well as Ridiculous and Amusing Stories, herein appear. All proved 
from their own Books. Written for the Honest Information ol all 

Eisenmenger intended to hurl Wagenseil's "fiery 
darts of Satan " with deadly aim at the Jews. If he 
had merely quoted detached sentences from the 
Talmudical and later Rabbinical literature and anti- 
Christian writings, translated them, and drawn con- 
clusions from them hostile to the Jews, he would 
only have proved his mental weakness. But Eisen- 
menger represented most horrible falsehoods, as 
Wagenseil had called them, as indisputable facts. 
He adduced a whole chapter of proofs showing that 
it was not lawful for Jews to save a Christian from 
danger to life, that the Rabbinical laws command 
the slaughter of Christians, and that no confidence 
should be placed in Jewish physicians, nor ought 
their medicines to be taken. He repeated all the 
false stories of murders committed by Jews against 
Christians, of the poisoning of wells by Jews at the 
time of the Black Death, of the poisoning of the 
elector of Brandenburg, Joachim II, by his Jewish 
mint-master, of Raphael Levi's child-murder at Metz 
in short, all ever invented by saintly simplicity, 
priestly fraud, or excited fanaticism, and imputed to 
Jews. That the martyrdom of little Simon of Trent 
was a fabrication had been clearly proved by the 
doge and senate of Venice on authentic documents. 
Not only the Jewish writers Isaac Viva and Isaac 
Cardoso, but also Christians, like Wiilfer and Wag- 
enseil, recognized these documents as genuine, and 
represented the charge against the Jews of Trent 
as a crying injustice. Eisenmenger was not influ- 
enced by that, declared the documents to be forged, 


and maintained the bloodthirstiness of Jews with 
fiery zeal and energy. One would be justified in 
ascribing his proceedings against Jews to brutality 
or avarice. Although very learned in Hebrew, he 
was otherwise uncultured. He was willing to be 
bribed by solid coin into silence with regard to the 
Jews. ^But for the honor of humanity one would 
rather impute his course to blindness ; he had lived 
a long time at Frankfort-on-the-Main, formerly the 
center of hatred to Jews in Germany, and he may 
there have imbibed his bitter animosity, and have 
wished, at first from conscientious motives, to blacken 
the character of the Jews. 

Some Jews had got wind of the printing of 
Eisenmenger's work at Frankfort, and were not a little 
alarmed at the danger threatening them. The old 
prejudices of the masses and the ecclesiastics against 
Jews, stronger amongst Protestants than Catholics, 
still existed too strongly for a firebrand publication 
to appear in German without doing mischief wher- 
ever it came. The Jews of Frankfort therefore 
E'aced themselves in communication with the court- 
iws at Vienna in order to meet the danger, 
mperor Leopold I, who, at the instigation of the 
empress and her father-confessor, had expelled the 
Jews from Vienna, being in need of money in con- 
sequence of the Turkish wars, fifteen years later 
allowed some rich Jews to settle in the capital. 
Samuel Oppenheim, of Heidelberg, a banker, one of 
the noblest of Jews, whose heart and hand were 
open to all sufferers, had probably brought about 
this concession. As before, several Jewish families, 
alleged to be his servants, came with him to Vienna. 
Samuel Oppenheim zealously endeavored to pre- 
vent the circulation of Eisenmenger's book against 
the Jews. He had the same year experienced what 
a Christian rabble instigated by hatred of Jews 
could do. A riotous assault was made upon his 
house, which was broken into, and everything 


there, including the money-chest, was plundered 
(July 17, 1700). Hence from personal motives 
and on public grounds Samuel Oppenheim exerted 
himself to prevent the 2,000 copies of Eisen- 
menger's work from seeing the light of day. He 
and other Jews could justly maintain that the publi- 
cation of this book in German, unattractive though 
its style was, would lead to the massacre of the Jews. 
An edict was therefore issued by the emperor for- 
bidding its dissemination. Eisenmenger was doubly 
disappointed ; he could not wreak his hatred on the 
Jews, and he had lost the whole of his property, 
which he had spent on the printing, and was obliged 
to incur debts. All the copies, except a few which 
he had abstracted, were in Frankfort under lock 
and key. He entered into negotiations with Jews, 
and proposed to destroy his work for 90,000 marks. 
As the Jews offered scarcely half that sum, the con- 
fiscation remained in force, and Eisenmenger, de- 
ceived in all his hopes, died of vexation. 

But the matter did not terminate there. Fre- 
derick I, the newly-crowned king of Prussia, took a 
lively interest in the book. The attention of this 
prince was keenly directed to the Jews from various 
causes. At the beginning of the eighteenth century 
more than a thousand Jews dwelt in his domains. 
The community of Berlin had grown in thirty years, 
since their admission, from twelve to some seventy 
families. Frederick I, who was fond of show and 
pomp, had no particular partiality for Jews, but he 
valued them for the income derived from them. 
The court jeweler, Jost Liebmann, was highly 
esteemed at court, because he supplied pearls and 
trinkets on credit, and thus held an exceptionally 
favorable position. It was said that Liebmann's 
wife ^ had taken the fancy of the prince ; she later 
obtained the liberty of entering the king's apartment 
unannounced. Through her the Jews received per- 
mission to have a cemetery in Konigsberg ; but 


Jewish money was more highly prized by this king 
than Jewish favorites. Frederick, who while elector 
had thought of banishing the Jews, tolerated them 
for the safety tax which they had to pay 100 ducats 
yearly but they were subjected to severe restric- 
tions, amongst others they could not own houses 
and lands. Yet they were allowed to have syna- 
gogues, first a private one granted as a favor to the 
court jeweler Jost Liebmann and the family of 
David Riess, an immigrant from Austria, and then, 
owing to frequent disputes about rights and privil- 
eges, a public synagogue as well. 

Two maliciously disposed baptized Jews, Chris- 
tian Kahtz and Francis Wenzel, sought to pre- 
judice the new king and the population against the 
Jews. "Blasphemy against Jesus "so runs the 
lying charge. The prayer "Alenu " and others were 
cited as proofs that the Jews pronounced the name 
of Jesus with contumely, and that they spat in doing 
so. The ^ guilds not being well disposed to the 
Jews ^ utilized this excitement for fanatical per- 
secution, and such bitter feeling arose in the cities 
and villages against the Jews, that (as they expressed 
themselves, perhaps knowingly exaggerating) their 
life was no longer safe. King Frederick proposed 
a course which does honor to his good heart. He 
issued a command (December, 1700) to all the pres- 
idents of departments to call together the rabbis 
and, in default of them, the Jewish school-masters 
and elders on a certain day, and ask them on oath 
whether, in uttering or silently using the blasphemous 
word "va-rik," they applied it-to Jesus. The Jews 
everywhere solemnly declared on oath that they did 
not refer to Jesus in this prayer at the place where 
the lacuna was left in the prayer-books. John 
Henry Michaelis, the theologian, of Halle, who was 
asked respecting the character of the jews, pro- 
nounced them innocent of the blasphemy of which 
they were accused. As the king continued to sus- 


pect the Jews of reviling Jesus in thought, he issued 
orders characteristic of the time (1703). He said 
that it was his heart's wish to bring the people of 
Israel, whom the Lord had once loved and chosen 
as His peculiar possession, into the Christian com- 
munion. He did not, however, presume to exercise 
control over their consciences, but would leave the 
conversion of the Jews to time and God's wise coun- 
sel. Nor would he bind them by oath to refrain 
from uttering in prayer the words in question. But he 
commanded them on pain of punishment to refrain 
from those words, to utter the prayer " Alenu " aloud, 
and not to spit while so doing. Spies were ap- 
pointed to visit the synagogues from time to time, 
as eleven centuries before in the Byzantine empire, 
in order to observe whether this concluding prayer 
was pronounced aloud or in a whisper. 

Eisenmenger before his death, and his heirs after 
him, knowing that the king of Prussia was inclined 
to listen to accusations against the Jews, had applied 
to him to entreat Emperor Leopold to release the 
book against the Jews, entitled "Judaism Unmasked, " 
from ban and prohibition. Frederick I interested 
himself warmly in the matter, and sent a kind of 
petition to Emperor Leopold II (April 25, 1705) 
very characteristic of the tone of that time. The 
king represented that Eisenmenger had sunk all his 
money in this book, and had died of vexation at the 
imperial prohibition. It would seem a lowering of 
Christianity if the Jews were so powerful as to be 
able to suppress a book written in defense of Christi- 
anity and in refutation of Jewish errors. There 
was no reason to apprehend, as the Jews pretended, 
that it would incite the people to a violent onslaught 
against them, since similar writings had lately ap- 
peared which had done them no harm. Eisen- 
menger's book aimed chiefly at the promotion of 
Christianity, so that Christians might not, as had 
repeatedly happened some years ago : be induced to 



revolt from it and become adherents of Judaism. 
But Emperor Leopold would not remove the ban 
from Eisenmenger's book. King Frederick repeated 
his request three years later, at the desire of Eisen- 
menger's heirs, to Emperor Joseph I. With him 
also King Frederick found no favorable hearing, 
and the 2,000 copies of "Judaism Unmasked" 
remained at Frankfort under ban for forty years. 
But with Frederick's approval a second edition was 
brought out at Konigsberg, where the imperial cen- 
sorship had no power. For the moment it had no 
such effect as the one side had hoped and the other 
feared ; but, later on, when the rights of Jews as 
men and citizens were considered, it proved an 
armory for malicious or indolent opponents. 

King Frederick I was often urged by enemies of 
the Jews to make his royal authority a cloak for their 
villainy. The bright and the dark side of the gen- 
eral appreciation of Jewish literature appeared 
clearly. In Holland, likewise a Protestant country, 
a Christian scholar of this period cherished great 
enthusiasm for the Mishna, the backbone of Talmud- 
ical Judaism. William Surenhuysius, a young man 
of Amsterdam, in the course of many years translated 
the Mishna with two commentaries upon it into 
Latin (printed 1 698- 1 703) . He displayed more than 
the usual amount of Dutch industry and application. 
Love certainly was needed to undertake such a 
study, persevere in it, and finish the work in a clear 
and attractive style. No language and literature 
present so many difficulties as this dialect, now 
almost obsolete, the objects which it describes, and 
the form in which it is cast. Surenhuysius sat at 
the feet of Jewish teachers, of whom there were 
many at Amsterdam, and he was extremely grateful 
for their help. But their assistance did not enable 
him to dispense with industry and devotion. He 
was influenced by the conviction that the oral Law, 
the Mishna, in its main contents is as divine as the 



written word of the Bible. He desired that Chris- 
tian youths in training for theology and the clerical 
profession should not yield to the Deductions of 
classical literature, but by engaging in the study^of 
the Mishna should, as it were, receive ordination 

He who desires to be a good and worthy disciple of Christ must 
first become a Jew, or he must first learn thoroughly the language and 
culture of the Jews, and become Moses's disciple before he joins 
the Apostles, in order that he may be able through Moses and the 
prophets to convince men that Jesus is the Messiah. 

In this enthusiastic admiration for the corner-stone 
of the edifice of Judaism, which the builders up of 
culture were wont to despise, Surenhuysius included 
the people who owned these laws. He cordially- 
thanked the senate of Amsterdam because it speci- 
ally protected the Jews. 

" In the measure in which this people once surpassed all other 
peoples, you give it preference, worthy men ! The old renown and 
dignity, which this people and the citizens of Jerusalem once pos- 
sessed, are yours. For the Jews are sincerely devoted to you, not 
overcome by force of arms, but won over by humanity and wisdom ^ 
they come to you, and are happy to obey your republican government." 

Surenhuysius was outspoken in his displeasure 
against those who having learned what served their 
interest from the Scriptures of the Jews, reviled and 
threw mud at them, " like highwaymen, who, having 
robbed an honest man of all his clothes, beat him to 
death, and send him away with scorn/' He formed 
a plan to make the whole of Rabbinical literature 
accessible to the learned world through the Latin 
language* While Surenhuysius of Amsterdam felt 
such enthusiasm for this, not the most brilliant, side 
of Judaism, and saw in it a means to promote 
Christianity (in which view he did not stand alone), 
a vile Polish Jew, named Aaron Margalita, an 
apostate to Christianity for the sake of gain, brought 
fresh accusations of blasphemy before King Fred- 
erick of Prussia against an utterly harmless part of 
Jewish literature the old Agada. An edition of 


the MidrashRabba (1705), published at Frankfort- 
on-the-Oder, was accordingly put under a ban by 
the king's command, until Christian theologians 
.should pronounce judgment upon it. 

The best result of this taste for Jewish literature 
on the part of learned Christians, and of the literary 
works promoted thereby was an interesting histori- 
'cal work concerning Jews and Judaism, which may 
be said to have terminated the old, and foreshadowed 
a new epoch. Jacob Basnage (born 1653, died 
1723), of noble character, a Protestant theologian, a 
solid historian, a pleasant author, and a person held 
in high esteem generally, rendered incalculable ser- 
vice to Judaism. He sifted the results of the labori- 
ous researches of scholars, popularized them, and 
made them accessible to all educated circles. In 
his assiduous historical inquiries, especially as to the 
development of the Church, Basnage met Jews at 
almost every step. He had a suspicion that the 
Jewish people had not, as ordinary theologians 
thought, become utterly bankrupt through the loss 
of its political independence and the spread of Chris- 
tianity, a doomed victim, the ghost of its former self. 
The great sufferings of this people and its rich lit- 
erature inspired him with awe. His sense of truth 
with regard to historical events would not allow him 
to dismiss facts or explain them away with empty 
phrases. Basnage undertook to compile the history 
-of the Jews or the Jewish religion, so far as it was 
known to him, from Jesus down to his own times. 
He labored on this work for more than five years. 
It was intended to continue the history of the Jewish 
historian Flavius Josephus after the dispersion of 
the Jewish people. Basnage strove, as far as was 
possible for a staunch Protestant at that time, to 
present and judge events in an impartial manner. 

" Christians may not be surprised that we often acquit the Jews of 
crimes of which they are not guilty, since justice so requires. No par- 
tiality is implied in accusing those of injustice and oppression who 


have been guilty of them. We have no intention to injure the Jews 
any more than to flatter them. ... In the decay and dregs of cen- 
turies men have adopted a spirit of cruelty and barbarism towards the 
Jews. They were accused of being the cause of all the disasters which 
happened, and charged with a multitude of crimes of which they 
never even dreamed. Numberless miracles were invented to convict 
them or rather the better to satisfy hatred under the shade of religion. 
We have made a collection of laws, which councils and princes pub- 
lished against them, by means of which people can judge of the malice 
of the former and the oppression of the latter. Men did not, however, 
confine themselves to the edicts, but everywhere military executions, 
popular riots, and massacres took place. Yet, by a miracle of Provi- 
dence, which must excite the astonishment of all Christians, this hated 
nation, persecuted in all places for a great number of centuries, still 
exists everywhere. . . . Peoples and kings, heathens, Christians, and 
Mahometans, opposed to one another in so many points, have agreed 
in the purpose of destroying this nation, and have not succeeded. 
The bush of Moses, surrounded by flames, has ever burned without 
being consumed. The Jews have been driven out of all the cities of 
the world, and this has only served to spread them abroad in all ci ties. 
They still live in spite of the contempt and hatred which follow them 
everywhere, while the greatest monarchies have fallen, and are known 
to us only by name." 

Basnage, who by the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes through the Catholic intolerance of Louis 
XIV was banished to Holland, could to some degree 
appreciate the feelings of the Jews during their long 
exile. He had acquired sufficient knowledge of 
Jewish literature to consult the authorities in the 
execution of his work. The historical works of 
Abraham ibn Daud, Ibn Yachya, Ibn Verga, David 
Cans, and others were not neglected ; they served 
Basnage as building material wherewith to rear the 
great fabric of Jewish history of the sixteen centuries 
since the origin of Christianity. 

But Basnage was not sufficiently an artist to un- 
roll before the eye in glowing colors, even if in im- 
ages fleeting as the mist, the sublime or tragic scenes 
of Jewish history. Nor had he the talent to mass 
together or marshal in groups and detachments facts 
widely scattered in consequence of the peculiar 
course of this people's history. One can feel in 
Basnage's presentation that he was oppressed and 
overpowered by the superabundance of details. He 
jumbled together times and occurrences in motley 


confusion, divided the history into two unnatural 
halves, the East and the West, and described in con- 
junction events without connection. Of the deep 
inner springs of the life and deeds of the nation he 
had no comprehension. His Protestant creed hind- 
ered him ; he saw Jewish history only through the 
thick mist of Church history. Despite his efforts to 
be impartial and honest, he could not rid himself of 
the belief that the "Jews are rejected because they 
have rejected Jesus." In short, Basnage's " History 
of the Religion of the Jews" has a thousand faults. 
Hardly a single sentence can be regarded as per- 
fectly just and in accordance with the truth. 

Yet the appearance of this work was of great im- 
portance to the Jews. It circulated in the educated 
world a mass of historical information, crude and 
distorted though it was, because it was written in 
the fashionable French language, and this seed shot 
up everywhere luxuriantly. A people, which, despite 
bloody persecutions, without a home, with no spot 
on the whole earth where it could lay its head or 
place its foot, yet possessed a history not wholly de- 
void of splendor such a people was not like a gipsy 
horde, but must find ever-increasing consideration. 
Without his knowledge or intention, even whilst 
casting many an aspersion upon the Jewish race, 
Basnage paved the way to raising it from its abject 
condition. Christian Theophilus Unger, a pastor in 
Silesia, and John Christopher Wolf, professor of 
Oriental languages in Hamburg, who were busily 
and earnestly engaged in the study of Jewish litera- 
ture and history, became Basnage's disciples, and 
without his work could not have effected so much as 
they did in this field. Both, especially Wolf, filled 
many gaps which Basnage had left, and evinced a 
certain degree of warmth for the cause. 

The admiration, or- at least sympathy, felt for the 
Jews at this time, induced John Toland (an Irish- 
man, the courageous opponent of fossilized Chris- 


tianity) to raise his voice on behalf of their equality 
with Christians in England and Ireland. This was 
the first word spoken in favor of their emancipation. 
But the people, in whose favor this remarkable re- 
vulsion of sentiment had taken place in the educated 
world, was without knowledge of it, and felt no change 
in popular sentiment. 



Low Condition of the jews at the End of the Seventeenth Century- 
Representatives of Culture : David Nieto, Jehuda Brieli The 
Kabbala Jewish Chroniclers Lopez Laguna translates the 
Psalms into Spanish De Barrios The Race after Wealth 
General Poverty of the Jews Revival of Sabbatianism Daniel 
Israel Bonafoux, Cardoso, Mordecai of Eisenstadt, Jacob Querido, 
and Berachya Sabbatianism in Poland Abraham Cuenqui 
Judah Chassid Chayim Malach Solomon Ayllon Nehemiah 
Chayon David Oppenheim's Famous Library Chacham Zevi 
The Controversy on Chayon's Heretical Works in Amsterdam. 

17001725 C. E. 

AT the time when the eyes of the civilized world 
were directed upon the Jewish race with a certain 
degree of sympathy and admiration, and when, at 
the dawn of enlightenment in the so-called philo- 
sophical century, ecclesiastical prejudices were be- 
ginning to disappear, the members of this race were 
making a by no means favorable impression upon 
those with whom they came into contact. Weighed 
in the balance, they were found wanting even by 
their well-wishers. The Jews were at no time in so 
pitiful a plight as at the end of the seventeenth and 
beginning of the eighteenth century. Several cir- 
cumstances had contributed to render them utterly 
demoralized and despised. The former teachers 
of Europe, through the sad course of centuries, had 
become childish, or worse, dotards. Every public 
or historical act of the Jews bears this character of 
imbecility, if not contemptibility . There was not a 
single- cheering event, hardly a person commanding 
respect who could worthily represent Judaism, and 
bring it into estimation. The strong-minded, manly 
Orobio de Castro (died in 1687), the former victim 


of the Inquisition, whose fidelity to conviction, whose 
dignity, and the acumen with which he contested 
Christianity commanded the respect of the leading 
opponents of Judaism, was indeed still living. But 
he left no successor of equal standing within ^the 
highly cultured community of Amsterdam, certainly 
not outside of it, where the conditions for an inde- 
pendent Jewish personality possessed of culture 
were entirely wanting. The leaders of the com- 
munity were for the most part led astray, wandering 
as in a dream, and stumbling at every step. But 
few rabbis occupied themselves with any branch of 
knowledge beyond the Talmud, or entered on a new 
path in this study. The exceptions can be counted. 
Rabbi David Nieto, of London (born 1654, died 
1728), was a man of culture. He was a physician, 
understood mathematics, was sufficiently able to de- 
fend Judaism against calumnies, and, besides many 
platitudes, wrote much that was reasonable. The 
Italian rabbi, Jehuda Leon Brieli, of Mantua (born 
about 1643, died 1722), was also an important per- 
sonage a man of sound views, of solid, even philo- 
sophical knowledge, whose style in the vernacular 
was elegant, and who knew how to defend Judaism 
against Christian aggressiveness. Brieli had the 
courage to disregard two customs, which was ac- 
counted worse than criminal by his contemporaries : 
he remained unmarried all his life, and though a 
rabbi, did not wear a beard. But Brieli's influence 
on his Jewish contemporaries was very slight. He 
knew the weaknesses of Christianity, but had not 
the same sharp vision for the faults of Judaism and 
the Jews. Of the mischievous nature of the Zohar 
and the Kabbala generally, however, Brieli was 
thoroughly aware ; he wished that they had not seen 
the light of day ; but his critical knowledge extended 
no further. 

For the rest, the rabbis of this period were not 
models, the Poles and Germans being for the most 


part pitiable figures, their heads filled with unprofit- 
able knowledge, otherwise ignorant and helpless as 
little children. The Portuguese rabbis presented a 
dignified, imposing appearance, but they were 
shallow. The Italians bore more resemblance to 
the Germans, but had not their learning. Thus, 
with no guides acquainted with the road, sunk in igno- 
rance, or filled with conceit, beset with phantoms, 
the Jews in all parts of the world without exception 
were passing from one absurdity to another, and 
allowing themselves to be imposed upon by jugglers 
and visionaries. Any absurdity, however trans- 
parent, provided it was apparently vindicated with 
religious earnestness, and interlarded with strained 
verses of Scripture, or sayings from the Talmud 
artificially explained, or garnished with scraps of 
the Kabbala, was persistently believed and pro- 
pagated. " The minds of men, estranged from life 
and true knowledge, exhausted their powers in 
subtleties and the superstitious errors of the Kab- 
bala. Teachers spoke seldom or only in the words 
of the Talmud to their scholars ; no attention was 
paid to delivery, for there was no language and no 
eloquence." The culminating point of the Middle 
Ages was reached in Jewish history at a time when 
it had been passed by the most of Western Europe. 
The spread of superstitious usages with a coating 
of religion was in no wise checked. To write 
amulets (Kamea) for the exorcism of diseases was 
required of the rabbis, and they devoted themselves 
to this work ; many wished to be thought conjurors 
of spirits. A rabbi, Simon Baki at Casale in Italy, 
complained to his master, the foolish Kabbalist 
Moses Zacut at Venice, that he had used the pre- 
scribed formulas of conjuration for a woman at Turin 
supposed to be possessed, without any successful 
result. Thereupon the latter gave him more effi- 
cacious means, viz., whilst using God's name in 
prayer, he was to hold burning sulphur to the nose 


of the possessed. The more sensitive she was, and 
the more she struggled against the remedy, the 
more might he be convinced that she was possessed 
by an evil spirit. An instructed Jew of the Kab- 
balist school of Damascus once boasted seriously 
before the free-thinking critic Richard Simon, that 
he could evoke a genius of a high order, and began 
to make preparations. The incredulous ^Father 
followed his movements with a satirical smile, and 
the conjuror got out of the predicament with the 
remark that the soil of France was not suited for 

To elevate Judaism in the eyes of the nations and 
to represent it in a manner worthy of respect was 
at this time not in the power of the Jews. They 
rather degraded and made it contemptible. Thought- 
ful Christians stood astonished before this wonderful 
monument of history, this people with its learning 
and its alternately glorious and tragic destiny ; but 
its own sons were too dull to feel their own great- 
ness, or sought it only in silly stories and absurd 
actions. Whilst Christians industriously and with 
feelings of amazement investigated the history of 
the Jews during three thousand years, the Jews had 
no such feeling, not even the cultivated Portuguese 
Jews. Manasseh ben Israel had outlined a history 
of the Jews, and probably suggested Basnage's 
work, but he did not accomplish his own design. 
Three historians, indeed, are named as belonging 
to this time the itinerant rabbi David Conforte, 
secondly, Miguel (Daniel) de Barrios, a Marrano, 
born in Portugal, who returned to Judaism at 
Amsterdam, and lastly the Polish rabbi Jechiel 
Heilperin, of Minsk. But all three resemble the 
monkish chroniclers of the barbarous ages, and their 
style is more repulsive than attractive. 

If literature is the true photograph of the thoughts 
and aspirations of an age, then the century between 
Spinoza and Mendelssohn, judged by 'its literary 


productions, must have had very ugly features. A 
good deal, it is true, was written and published ; 
every rabbi by a fresh contribution to the already 
stupendous pile of Rabbinical matter essayed to 
perpetuate his name, to secure his future bliss, and 
withal to earn a pittance. Subtle Rabbinical com- 
mentaries, insipid sermons, and books of devotion, 
acrimonious controversial writings were the emana- 
tions of the Jewish mind or lack of mind at this time. 
The flower of poetry found no soil in this quagmire. 
This age produced only two Jewish poets, genuine 
sons of the Jewish muse, who lived at a great dis- 
tance from each other, one in the island of Jamaica, 
the other in Italy Lopez Laguna and Luzzatto 
as if the old Jewish trunk, crownless and leafless, 
wished to reveal the life at its heart and prove its 
capability to renew its youth even under the most 
unfavorable circumstances. Lopez Laguna, born a 
Marrano in France (about 1660, died after 1720), 
came when but a youth to Spain, where he made the 
acquaintance of the horrible Inquisition, In his 
night of suffering, the Psalms, full of tender feeling, 
brought light and hope to him as to so many of his 
companions in sorrow. Released from prison, and 
having escaped to Jamaica, Laguna, under the Jew- 
ish name of Daniel Israel, attuned his harp to the 
holy songs which had revived his soul. To make 
the Psalms accessible to others, especially to Mar- 
ranos ignorant of Hebrew, he made a faithful trans- 
lation of them into melodious, elegant Spanish verse. 
This psalter, "a mirror of life," Daniel Israel Lopez 
Laguna took to London, where his work procured 
him a triumphant reception from several minor 
poets and also from three Jewish poetesses, Sarah 
de Fonseca Pinto y Pimentel, Manuela Nunez da 
Almeida, and Bienvenida Coen -Belmonte, who 
addressed him in Latin, English, Portuguese, and 
Spanish verses. 

Moses Chayim Luzzatto, a victim to the dreary 


errors of this time, composed two Hebrew dramas 
full of beauty and youthful freshness. With the ex- 
ception of these poetical flowers this long period 
shows a colorless waste. Daniel de Barrios, cap- 
tain, historian, and beggar, cannot be reckoned a 
poet, although he composed an astonishing number 
of Spanish,as well as Hebrew rhymes, besides several 
Spanish dramas, and he sang before, and without 
sharne begged of, nearly every Jewish and Christian 
magnate who possessed a full purse. ^ 

Not only the scientific and artistic spirit, but also 
the moral sense was lost, or at least blunted in this 
general demoralization. The fundamental virtues 
of the Jewish race continued to exist even at this 
time in undiminished strength idyllic family love, 
brotherly sympathy towards one another, and chas- 
titv. Gross vices and crimes occurred even then 
but seldom in the tents of Jacob. Thoroughly cor- 
rupt outcasts were considerate enough to leave it, 
and to pollute the church or the mosque with their 
immorality. But the feeling of right and honor 
amongst Jews was on the whole weakened. There 
was a lowering in tone of that tender conscience, 
which with a sort of maiden shame avoids even what 
the precepts of religion and the paragraphs of the 
civil code leave unforbidden. To make money was 
so imperious a necessity that ways and means 
became indifferent, and were not exposed to censure. 
To take undue advantage, and to overreach, not 
merely a hostile population, but even their own co- 
religionists, was regarded for the most part not as 
a disgrace, but rather as a kind of heroic action. 
From this sprang worship of Mammon, not merely 
love, but also respect for gold, no matter how impure 
its source. The democratic equality hitherto main- 
tained amongst Jews, who refused to recognize dis- 
tinctions of class and caste, was lost in the furious 
dance round the golden calf. The rich man was 
held worthy of honor one to whom those less 



kindly favored by fortune looked up as to something 
higher, and in whom they therefore overlooked 
many failings. The richest, not the most worthy, 
were made the managers pf the community, and 
were granted a charter 'for arbitrary conduct 
and arrogance. A satire of the period scourges 
very severely the almighty power of money, to which 
all bowed down. "The dollar binds and looses, 
it raises the ignorant to the chief offices in the 

Increasing poverty among Jews was partly the 
cause of this state of affairs. Only among the small 
number of Portuguese Jews at Amsterdan, Ham- 
burg, Leghorn, Florence, and London, there were 
men of considerable wealth. Isaac (Antonio) 
Suasso, created Baron Alvernes de Gras by Charles 
II, of Spain, was able to advance to William III, for 
his semi-adventurous expedition to London to ob- 
tain the English crown, two million florins without 
interest, with the simple words, "If you are for- 
tunate, you will repay them to me ; if not, I am wil- 
ling to lose them." The millionaires at Amsterdam 
were the Pintos, the Belmontes, David Bueno de 
Mesquito, Francisco Melo, who rendered many 
services to Holland by his wealth. One of the De 
Pintos bequeathed several millions for noble objects, 
making provision for Jewish communities, the state, 
Christian orphanages, clergy, clerks, and sextons. 
At Hamburg there were the Texeiras, who were re- 
lated by marriage to Suasso, and Daniel Abensur, 
able to make large advances to the poor rulers of 
Poland. On the other hand, the Polish, German, 
and also the Italian and the Oriental Jews, were ex- 
tremely impoverished. The changes which com- 
merce had experienced brought about this alteration. 
The Jews could no longer practice usury, they had 
no capital, or rather Christian capitalists competed 
with them. Poorest of all were the Polish Jews, 
they who used to lord it over all the Jews in Europe. 


They could not recover from the wounds which the 
Cossack disturbances had inflicted on them, and the 
disruption of the Polish kingdom that followed 
caused them fresh troubles. The increasing poverty 
of the Polish Jews every year drove swarms of beg- 
gars to the west and south of Europe. They re- 
sorted to the large communities to procure shelter 
and food from their rich brethren. Polish students 
of the Talmud, superior to all other Jews in knowl- 
edge of the Talmud, went principally to the import- 
ant rabbinates, Prague, Nikolsburg, Frankfort-on- 
the-Main, Amsterdam, and Hamburg, and even to 
Italian communities. Every Polish emigrant was, 
or proclaimed himself to be, a rabbi or preacher, and 
was so regarded. Many of them were a disgrace to 
the rabbinical office, for which they had no qualifica- 
tions, either mental or moral. They fawned on the 
rich from need and habit. From them sprang the 
ever-increasing demoralization among Jews. To 
their care, or rather to their neglect, were entrusted 
the Jewish youth, who, as soon as they could talk, 
were introduced to the Talmud, after the sophistical, 
artificial method. Through this perversity the lan- 
guage of the German Jews, like that of the Poles, 
degenerated into a repulsive stammer, and their 
manner of thinking and love of disputation into 
crabbed dogmatism that defied all logic. Their feel- 
ing for simplicity and truth was lost, and even the 
Portuguese Jews, who kept themselves aloof from 
the odious jargon, did not remain uncontaminated 
by the perverse manner of thinking prevalent at the 

Added to this was the fact that the mud-streams 
of Sabbatian fanaticism burst forth afresh. They 
besmirched all who came in contact with them, but, 
nevertheless, they were regarded as a pure stream 
from the fountain-head of the Deity. Their one 
good effect was that they stirred up, and set in mo- 
tion the stagnant swamp ; or, to speak without met- 



aphor, the sluggish routine in which the Jews lived 
was broken, and the rabbis, dull with unfruitful learn- 
ing, were roused to a certain degree of passion and 
energy. ^ After Sabbatai's death one of his follow- 
ers, Daniel Israel Bonafoux, an ignorant officiating 
reader (Chazan) at Smyrna, kept up the faith in the 
dead Messiah by all sorts of jugglery. At one time 
he pretended to have seen a moving fire-ball ; at 
another, to have heard a voice say that Sabbata'i 
was still alive, and would reign forever. The com- 
munity at Smyrna bribed the Kadi to banish him 
from the city, but Daniel Israel took up his residence 
in the neighborhood of Smyrna, and encouraged the 
sect to persevere in its belief. He was aided and 
abetted by Abraham Michael Cardoso of Tripoli, 
who reappeared on this stage, where he found a con- 
venticle of Sabbatian associates, who flocked round 
him, because with his scientific education, his culture, 
and fluency of speech, he was far superior to them. 
Cardoso announced dreams and visions, declared 
himself Sabbatai Zevi's successor, the Ephraimite 
Messiah, practiced extraordinary impositions, and 
visited graves to be inspired by departed spirits, and 
obtain predictions to suit his theory. This consisted 
in the blasphemous assumption that there are two 
Gods one the First Cause, incomprehensible, with- 
out will and influence over the universe ; the other 
the God of Israel, the actual Creator of the world, 
and Lawgiver of the Jewish people, who alone should 
be worshiped. But the rabbis of Smyrna put a stop 
to Cardoso's proceedings, threatened him with death, 
and compelled him to leave Sabbatai Zevi's birth- 
place. He betook himself thence to Constantinople 
with his Smyrna adherents, later pursued his mis- 
chievous behavior at Adrianople, Rhodosto, in Egypt, 
the Archipelago, and CandSa ; now as Messiah, now 
as physician, composed numerous treatises on the 
advent of the Messianic kingdom, expounded his 
theosophical-dualistic theory, incurred debts, drew 


women into his Kabbalistic conventicle, and is said 
to have lived immorally even to old age. At last 
Cardoso was stabbed by his nephew, who believed 
that he had been cheated by him (1706). His im- 
posture did not cease with his death ; for his writ- 
ings, a mixture of sense and nonsense, were eagerly 
read, and inflamed men's minds. Abraham Michael 
Cardoso remained at least faithful to Judaism, did 
not reverence Sabbatai Zevi as divine, vehemently 
contended against this blasphemy, and did not go 
over to Mahometanism. His prophet, Daniel Israel 
Bonafoux, on the other hand, assumed the turban, 
probably on account of the persecution suffered at 
the hands of the rabbinate of Smyrna. 

Far more important was the Kabbalistic fanaticism 
spread by an itinerant Sabbatian preacher, and 
transplanted to Poland, where it found congenial 
soil, and maintained its ground tenaciously. Morde- 
cai of Eisenstadt (Mochiach), even after the death 
of the renegade, remained his faithful follower. A 
disciple of Nathan and partisan of Cardoso, he re- 
turned to his home from the East, was of preposses- 
sing appearance and awe-inspiring features, lived an 
ascetic life, fasted eleven days in succession, preached 
in Hungary, Moravia, Bohemia, and Italy with much 
impressiveness on penitence and contrition in fact, 
played the part of a Jewish Vincent Ferrer. The 
applause which his preaching excited awakened his 
confidence, and he gave himself out as a prophet. 
In word and writing the preacher of Eisenstadt 
maintained that Sabbatai Zevi was the true Messiah, 
obliged to become a Mussulman by high mystical 
dispensation. The Hungarian, Moravian, and Bo- 
hemian Jews listened to these Sabbatian preachings 
and prophecies with eager interest. The Sabbatian 
frenzy had so blunted their power of thought that 
they were not offended at the notion of a new Mes- 
siah who had apostatized from Judaism. Mordecai 
went further in his folly, gave himself out as the true 


Messiah of the house of David, and maintained that 
he was Sabbata'i Zevi risen from the dead. The lat- 
ter had not been able to accomplish the work of re- 
demption, because he was rich. The Messiah must 
be poor ; therefore he, Mordecai, being; poor and 
persecuted, was the true redeemer. All this non- 
sense was accepted with credulous devotion. Some 
Italian Jews formally invited the Hungarian Messiah 
to come to them, and he obeyed the summons. At 
Modena and Reggio he was received with enthusi- 
asm. He^talked of his mission that he must go 
to Rome in order to make Messianic preparations 
in the sinful city. He cunningly hinted that he might 
be obliged to assume a Christian disguise, as Sab- 
batai Zevi had been obliged to veil himself in Turk- 
ish clothing: that is, in case of need he would ap- 
parently submit to baptism. Some Jews appear to 
have betrayed his plans to the Roman Inquisition, 
and his Italian followers advised him to leave Italy. 
He went once more to Bohemia, but could not find 
a footing there, and emigrated to Poland. Here, 
whither only a dim rumor of Sabbata'i and the Sab- 
batians had penetrated, he found, it appears, numer- 
ous followers ; for a sect was formed there which 
pursued its baneful career until the beginning of 
the age of Mendelssohn, and even beyond that 

At the same time the old imposture reappeared 
under new forms in Turkey. Sabbatai Zevi had 
left a widow, the daughter of Joseph Philosoph of 
Salonica, a learned Talmudist. She is said either 
from ambition or, as her enemies declared, from 
licentious motives, to have led the Sabbatians into 
fresh frenzy. Having returned to Salonica, she is 
said to have passed off her brother, Jacob (surnamed 
Querido, the favorite), as her son by Sabbatai Zevi. 
This boy, who received the name of Jacob Zevi, be- 
came an object of devout reverence to the Sabba- 
tians. They believed that in him the united souls 



of the two Messiahs of the houses of Joseph and 
David were born again ; he was therefore to be re- 
garded as the true redeemer, the genuine successor 
of SabbataL This new fantastic idea found the more 
adherents because Querido's own father, Joseph 
Philosoph, a man deeply versed in the Talmud, and 
another learned Talmudist, Solomon Florentin, 
joined the believers, and supported the new claim- 
ant. The widow of the Messiah and her brother 
Ouerido are said straightway to have recommended 
and practiced sexual indulgence as a means of pro- 
moting the work of redemption. The sinfulness of 
the world, they maintained, could be overcome only 
by a superabundance of sin, by the extremest degree 
of licentiousness. Among these Salonica Sabba- 
tians, then, shameless profligacy, even incest, were 
openly practiced so their enemies declared. One 
thing only is certain, marriage was not regarded as 
sacred among these people. According to the per- 
verse teachings of the Luryan school of Kabbalists, 
women who were not acceptable to their husbands, 
being a hindrance to a harmonious mystical marriage, 
could be divorced without further ceremony, and 
made over to others, who felt themselves attracted 
to them. This precept was only too eagerly obeyed 
in the mystical circle. It was a peculiar sort of 
"elective affinity." Several hundreds in Salonica 
belonged to this Sabbatian sect, chiefly young 
people. Amongst them was a young man named 
Solomon Ayllon, afterwards rabbi in London and 
Amsterdam, who shared in the prevailing loose life. 
He married a wife, as the one appointed by heaven, 
whom another man had forsaken without formal di- 
vorce, and she was carried off from him by a third. 
The Sabbatians of Salonica stood in close connec- 
tion with other members of the sect in Adrianople 
and Smyrna. 

The rabbis could not regard this disorder with 
indifference, and denounced the offenders to the 


Turkish authorities. The latter instituted investi- 
gations, and sentenced them to severe punishments. 
But the Sabbatians had learned from their founder 
a mean's of appeasing the anger of Turkish rulers. 
They all, to the number of four hundred it is said, 
assumed the white turban (about 1687), and dis- 
played more earnestness than Sabbatal in their 
newly-adopted faith. The pseudo-Messiah Jacob 
Zevi Querido with many of his followers made a pil- 
grimage to Mecca, in order to pray at the tomb of 
the prophet Mahomet. On the journey back he 
died at Alexandria. The leadership of the Turco- 
Jewish sect at Salonica was afterwards undertaken 
by his son Berachya, or Barochya (about 1695-1740). 
He also was regarded as.the successor of Sabbatal 
Zevi, as the embodiment of the original soul of the 
Messiah, as the incarnate Deity. His followers 
lived under the name Dolmah (properly Donmah), 
that is, apostates from Judaism, a sect distinct alike 
from Jews and Turks, who married only one another, 
and attended the mosques now and then, but more 
frequently assembled in secret for their own mystical 
service, to worship their redeemer and man-God. 
There are still in Salonica descendants of the sect 
of Sabbatai-Querido-Berachya, who observe a 
mixture of Kabbalistic and Turkish usages. Of Ju- 
daism they retained only circumcision on the eighth 
day and the Song of Solomon, the love dialogues and 
monologues of which left them free play for mystical 
and licentious interpretations. Recently the sultan 
granted the Donmah, now said to number 4,000 
members, the free exercise of their religion. 

In spite, perhaps on account of these excesses on 
the part of the Sabbatians of Salonica, opposed 
alike to Judaism and morality, they continually 
found fresh supporters, who clung to the delusion 
with pertinacity, deceived themselves and others, 
and ,gave impostors an opportunity to profit by this 
fanatical humor. From the East and from Poland 


secret Sabbatians crossed to and fro, from the latter 
as itinerant preachers, from the former as pretended 
messengers from the Holy Land, and continually 
incited to fresh errors. The emissary Abraham 
Cuenqui, from Hebron, who in Poland and Germany 
claimed charity for the poor of that city, at the 
request of a mystic gave a glowing description of 
the life of Sabbata'i, whom he had seen and admired 
in his youth. This biography, a sort of Sabbatian 
gospel, is an excellent example of how in the field 
of religion history takes the shape of myth, and 
myth again transforms itself into history. In Poland, 
probably at the instigation of the crazy Mordecai of 
Eisenstadt, there arose a Sabbatian sect, which 
believed that it was hastening the advent of the 
kingdom of heaven by penitence. At its head 
stood two men, Judah Chassid (the pious) of Dubno, 
a narrow-minded simpleton, and Chayim Malach, a 
cunning Talmudist. Both agitated the people by 
exciting sermons, and found an applauding audience, 
who joined them in penances and Kabbalistic ex- 
travagances. The association was called Chassidim. 
In Poland ignorance was so great that the rabbis 
themselves did not recognize the power and mis- 
chievous tendency of these Sabbatian enthusiasts. 
From 1,300 to 1,500 of this sect, under Judah 
Chassid, emigrated from Poland at the beginning 
of the year i/oo, intending to journey to the Holy 
Land, to await redemption there. Like the Chris- 
tian flagellants of old, these so-called devotees 
distinguished themselves by fasting many days, and 
by mortifications of every kind. The leaders wore 
on the Sabbath white garments of satin or cloth, 
whereby they intended to signify the time of grace. 
Wherever they went in Germany, they preached, 
and exhorted to strict penance. Judah Chassid by 
his powerful voice, his gestures, and bitter tears, 
carried away his hearers. He wrought especially 
upon the weak minds of women, to whom, contrary 


to custom, he was wont to preach, with a Torah 
roll under his arm, in the women's gallery. While 
the greater number of the Chassidim were assem- 
bling in Moravia and Hungary, Judah Chassid 
traveled with about 150 persons through Germany 
from Altona to Frankfort-on- the- Main and Vienna, 
everywhere preaching, wailing, and warning. The 
sect, especially in the larger communities, was richly 
supported. On account of the concourse of men 
and women who flocked to these sectarians, the 
rabbis did not venture to oppose their proceedings. 
Samuel Oppenheim, the rich court Jew at Vienna, 
supported the Chassidim richly, and procured pass- 
ports for them to the East. 

The enthusiasm of this sect soon came to an end. 
On the first day after their arrival in Jerusalem their 
principal leader Judah Chassid died ; his followers 
were helpless, and instead of speedy redemption 
found only horrible misery. Some of the Chassidim, 
therefore, disappointed and in despair, went over to 
Islam. The rest dispersed in all directions. Many 
were baptized as Christians, amongst them Judah 
Chassid's nephew, Wolf Levi of Lublin, who took 
the name of Francis Lothair Philippi; another 
nephew, Isaiah Chassid, afterwards caused fresh 
Sabbatian disturbances. Chayim Malach, however, 
who made the acquaintance of the aged Samuel 
Primo, Sabbatai Zevi's private secretary and coun- 
selor, remained for several years in Jerusalem, and 
presided over a small Sabbatian sect. He also 
taught the doctrine of two Gods or three Gods, and 
of the Divine incarnation, paid Sabbatai Zevi divine 
reverence, and is said to have carried about his 
image, carved in wood, in the synagogue, to be 
worshiped, and his followers are said to have danced 
round it. Chayim Malach aimed at the destruction 
of Rabbinical Judaism or Judaism in general. It is 
incomprehensible how the community of Jerusalem 
could have witnessed his proceedings for years 


without opposing them. Probably the rabbis there 
shared the Sabbatian idolatry, or profited by it. 
However, Chayim Malach seems at length to have 
been banished from Jerusalem. He then betook 
himself to the Mahometan Sabbatians at Salonica, 
the Donmah, took part in their extravagances, then 
went about preaching in several Turkish communi- 
ties, and openly taught the Sabbatian imposture. 
At Constantinople he was excommunicated, and on 
his second residence in that community was banished 
by Chacham Bashi (about 1709)- He thereupon 
returned through Germany to Poland, scattering the 
seed of Sabbatian heresy, destined to undermine 
Judaism. His death is said to have been due to 
excessive drinking. 

At the same time that Malach was sowing seed- 
grains in Poland for the process of dissolution, the 
torch of discord was hurled into the Jewish camp by 
two disguised Sabbatians, Chayon and Ayllon. 
The one through imposture, the other through stub- 
bornness and dogmatism, promoted a movement 
which presents very unpleasant features. Solomon 
Ayllon (born about 1667, died 1728), of Spanish 
descent, was born at Safet, and his mind was filled 
with the errors of the Kabbala. In his youth he fell 
in with the Sabbatians of Salonica, and in part 
shared their extravagances. Later he went to 
Leghorn, and after the death of the worthy and 
accomplished rabbi, Jacob Abendana, was invited to 
London to fill his place (1696-1707). Ayllon had 
enemies in London who, having heard of his not 
wholly irreproachable youth, implored one rabbi 
after another to procure his dismissal from office. 
From dread of the public scandal which would arise 
were it known that a former adherent of the notori- 
ous Sabbatal had officiated as rabbi, all who were 
consulted advised that the ugly story be forgotten. 
Ayllon was not distinguished in any branch of 
learning, not even in knowledge of the Talmud, nor 


could he have had an over-scrupulous conscience. 
While treating for the post of rabbi at Amsterdam, 
the London community being unwilling to lose him, 
he swore a solemn oath that he would not accept 
the post offered to him, although he had already 
given his consent to the Amsterdam council, and 
actually accepted the office. He palliated his con- 
duct in a sophistical and Jesuitical manner. His 
youthful predilection for Sabbatian errors, which he 
does not appear entirely to have abandoned even 
as rabbi of Amsterdam, induced Ayllon to give his 
aid to an arrant rogue, and thereby to help in 
producing profound dissensions in the Jewish world. 
This arch-impostor, who in hypocrisy, audacity, 
and unscrupulousness had but few equals in the 
eighteenth century, so rich in impostors, was 
Nehemiah Chiya Chayon (born about 1650, died 
after 1726). He took especial delight in mystifica- 
tion and extravagances, and from his youth led an 
adventurous, easy life of dissimulation. The career 
of this Kabbalistic adventurer is characteristic of the 
demoralization of the age in various ways. Chayon 
received his Talmudical instruction at Hebron, 
where the Sabbatian intoxication had made many 
victims. He possessed considerable logical acute- 
ness, was ready at discovering contradictions and 
incongruities ; but his giddy brain and cold heart, 
bent on the satisfaction of low cravings, induced him 
to make corrupt use of his powers. Of the Talmud 
and Rabbinical literature he understood enough to 
be able to appear at home in them, but he had no 
real attraction to these studies, nor any religious 
feeling. He was observant from hypocrisy ; when 
not watched, he disregarded the demands of religion 
and morality. He could assume a serious, awe- 
inspiring manner, and held men enthralled by his 
attractive appearance, his Kabbalistic scraps, and 
his mysterious demeanor. He generally enacted 
the part of a saint, at the same time singing love- 


songs and associating with women. He was, as he 
himself confessed, in close relation with the Sabba- 
tians at Salonica, and had taken trouble to get 
possession of their writings. He frequently con- 
versed with their leader, Samuel Primo, about 
Kabbalistic projects. It is said that in one of these 
interviews he proposed a new doctrine of a Trinity. 
He composed a work in which he maintained that 
Judaism, to be sure Kabbalistic Judaism, inculcated 
belief in a triune God. With this manuscript in his 
otherwise empty coffer he went to Smyrna, in the 
spring of the year 1 708, intending to seek his fortune 
either with the Sabbatians or with their opponents. 
He did, in fact, succeed in hoodwinking some rich 
men of Smyrna. His patrons pledged themselves 
mutually and to Chayon to give him powerful 
support. The arch-rogue was treated at Smyrna 
as a holy prophet, and nearly the whole community 
escorted him to the ship which was to convey him 
back to Palestine. His schemes were for the 
moment crowned with success. But before Chayon 
could settle down, the rabbinate of Jerusalem 
launched a sentence of excommunication against 
him, condemned his work, which they had not even 
read, to be burned (June 1708), and refused to give 
a hearing to the author. This gross blunder re- 
venged itself afterwards. For the moment, how- 
ever, Chayon was defeated. As one formally inter- 
dicted by the chief college in Palestine, he could not 
settle anywhere. The enthusiasm of his patrons in 
Smyrna was extinguished as quickly as it had blazed 
up, for the favor of men is changeable. 

Thus Chayon after a few days of good fortune 
was again reduced to mendicancy. In Italy, whither 
he had gone after leaving Egypt, and. where he 
spent spme^ years begging (1709-1711), his schemes 
met with little sympathy. At Venice only he met 
with some consideration from rabbis and the 
laity. Here he printed a small pamphlet, an extract 


from his larger work, wherein he openly set forth 
the Trinity as an article of the Jewish faith, not the 
Christian Trinity, but three persons (Parzufim) in 
the Godhead, the holy Primeval One, or Soul of all 
Souls, the Holy King, or incarnation of Deity, and 
a female Person (the Shechina). This nonsense, an 
insult to Judaism and its conception of God, was 
repeated by Chayon in doggerel, which he recom- 
mended as .edifying prayers for the especially pious. 
Bold and venturesome, he interwove with the first 
verses the words of a low Italian song, " Fair Mar- 
garet." And this blasphemous pamphlet (" Secret 
of the Trinity," " Raza di Yechuda ") was accepted 
and recommended by the rabbinate of Venice, either 
because they had not seen it before it was printed, 
or because by reason of Kabbalistic stupidity they 
did not perceive its drift. Chayon did not stay long 
at Venice. He betook himself to Prague, where he 
found credulous faith, favorable to his work of decep- 
tion. The leaders of the community, old and young 
rabbis and students of the Talmud, were all filled 
with it. 

David Oppenheim, chief rabbi of Prague, more 
famous for his rich collection of books than on 
account of his deeds and literary work, was an 
inveterate Kabbalist. To be sure he had no leisure 
to concern himself about the itinerant preacher 
Chayon, or the affairs of the community and the 
interest of Judaism. He needed his time for money 
transactions with the funds which, together with a 
considerable library, his rich uncle at Vienna, Samuel 
Oppenheim, had left him. David Oppenheim, there- 
fore, seldom met Chayon ; but his son Joseph, who 
was enchanted with his Kabbalistic juggling, took 
him into his house. He was well received also by 
the Kabbalistic rabbi, Naphtali Cohen, who was 
then living at Prague, and whose thaumaturgy had 
cost him dear. And if the house of Oppenheim, 
and Naphtali Cohen paid him homage, who would 


fail to exert himself for the pretended preacher or 
emissary from Palestine, as Chayon professed to 
be? No wonder that industrious youthful students 
of the Talmud, thirsting for knowledge, thronged to 
Chayon ! A.mong these was Jonathan Eibeschiitz, 
afterwards so notorious, who was living at that time 
in Pragu e, Chayon preached sermons at Prague, and 
entranced his hearers by his sophistical and witty 
manner, which made the most inconsistent things 
appear reconcilable. Now and then he allowed the 
erroneous doctrine of the Salonica Sabbatians to 
crop out, viz., that sin can be overcome only by a 
superabundance of sinfulness, by the satisfaction of 
all, even the most wicked, desires, and by the trans- 
gression of the ToraL He told his Prague adherents, 
or caused it to be circulated by his Venetian com- 
panion, that he conversed with the prophet Elijah, 
that he could compel the Godhead to reveal itself to 
him, and that he was able to call the dead to life and 
to create new worlds all of which found credence. 
He wrote amulets, which were eagerly sought after, 
and at the same time in secret led a profligate life. 
The money derived from imposture he wasted in 
card-playing. At last he ventured to submit his 
heretical work, his Sabbatian confession of faith in 
the Trinity, to Naphtali Cohen for his opinion, and 
showed him forged testimonials from Italian rabbis. 
From admiration for Chayon's person Naphtali 
Cohen, without even having glanced at the manu- 
script, expressed not simply his approval, but gave 
him a glowing recommendation a careless habit 
characteristic of the rabbis of that time, which on 
this occasion was destined to revenge itself bitterly. 
Provided with forged and filched recommendations, 
Chayon deceived many other communities, those of 
Vienna, Nikolsburg, Prosnitz, Breslau, GIogau, t and 
Berlin. He succeeded in passing himself off as a 
prophet before the credulous German Jews, and in 
being maintained by them. Secretly he entered 


into close relations with a Sabbatian enthusiast or 
impostor, Lobele Prosnitz, who cut out the four He- 
brew letters of the name of God in gold tinsel, stuck 
it on his breast, and made it shine before the dazzled 
eyes of the ^ credulous by means of burning alcohol 
and turpentine. Like savages, the Moravian Jews 
gazed at Lobele Prosnitz's alcohol miracle. At 
Berlin, where Chayon spent several months, he en- 
joyed the best opportunity to fish in troubled waters. 
The community of Berlin, increased to more than a 
hundred families, had fallen into disunion, apparently 
through two mutually hostile families at court. The 
widow of the court jeweler, Liebmann, was a favorite 
of King Frederick I, and was therefore disliked by 
the crown prince, afterwards Frederick William I. 
The latter had his own Jew in attendance, Marcus 
Magnus, the mortal enemy of the house of Liebmann, 
not merely from complaisance to the successor to, 
the throne. The feud between the two Jewish 
houses in Berlin spread to the whole community, 
divided it into two parties, and affected even the 
synagogue. When the fire of faction burned most 
furiously, Chayon came to Berlin, and turned the 
quarrel to his own advantage. He joined the Lieb- 
mann^ party, which, though the weaker of the two, 
was rich, and therefore more willing to make sacri- 
fices. The rabbi of Berlin, Aaron Benjamin Wolf, 
son-in-law of the court Jewess Liebmann, a simple 
fellow, treated Chayon with honorable distinction. 
Naphtali Cohen, who had come to Berlin, could have 
unmasked Chayon, but was afraid, as he said, to in- 
fl'ame the quarrel still further. Thus Chayon without 
molestation was able in Berlin to print his heretical 
book, with which he had begun his mischievous pro- 
ceedings five years before at Smyrna. He gave his 
work the artful title, "The Belief of the Universe" 
(" Mehemenuta de Cola"). The main text, the pro- 
duction of a Sabbatian (some thought of Sabbatai 
Zevi himself), proclaims the "holy king/' the Mes- 


siah, the incarnate Deity, as the God of Israel, and 
as the exclusive object of reverence and worship. 
Chayon added two sophistical commentaries, wherein 
he proved in various ways that the God of Judaism 
was the Trinity. In the prayer, " Hear, O Israel, 
God is one/' every Jew must needs think of this 
Trinity, otherwise he cannot attain to salvation, 
even if he fulfills all religious and moral duties. This 
belief alone can make a man certain of bliss. So 
low had Judaism sunk, that such blasphemy was 
printed before the eyes and with the consent of a 
rabbi Aaron Benjamin Wolf, at Berlin probably 
at the expense of the Liebmann party ! Chayon 
had the audacity to order forged testimonials of 
rabbis to be prefixed, as though they had read the 
book and recommended it. With this work he 
hastened by way of Hamburg to Amsterdam, to 
.make his fortune in that Jewish Eldorado, and thus 
schism was introduced into the Jewish world. 

The community of Amsterdam had been suffi- 
ciently warned of the machinations of the Sabbatians. 
The Jerusalem rabbi, Abraham Yizchaki, who had 
been appointed an emissary to collect alms, behaved 
like a papal legate, invested with supremacy over 
every thing religious, and like a grand inquisitor com- 
missioned to destroy the heresy which had been gain- 
ing ground. At Smyrna the heretical writings of 
the fanatic Abraham Michael Cardoso were in the 
hands of a few secret Sabbatians. At Yizchaki's 
suggestion these had to be given up by their owners 
under threat of excommunication and severe tem- 
poral punishment, and they were burned. The com- 
munity of Smyrna thereby felt itself freed from a 
heavy burden, and was thankful to its liberator. 
Yizchaki had also come to Amsterdam, and had 
warned the rabbis and the communal council against 
Sabbatian emissaries, and drew attention to the hint 
of the Smyrna rabbinate, that a secret Sabbatian 
was on his way to print Cardoso's writings. In fact 

CH. vi. CHACHAM ZEVI. 221 

a Sabbatian emissary did come to Amsterdam for 
that purpose. Chayon at first conducted himself 
modestly, and affiliated with the Portuguese. He 
presented the council with a copy of his work on the 
Trinity printed at Berlin, in order to obtain leave to 
sell it. He appears to have passed himself off as 
an emissary from Palestine. Hereupon bickerings 
arose, which began with personal feeling and ended 
in wide-spread dissension. 

The rabbi of the German community, Zevi Ash- 
kenazi, called Chacham Zevi, was much excited at the 
news of Chayon's presence in Amsterdam. This 
man, whose father had belonged to the most zealous 
Sabbatians, while fie himself and his son, Jacob Em- 
den, were destined to fight against them with vehe- 
ment zeal, was gifted with a clear head, and combined 
thoroughness with acuteness in the study of the Tal- 
mud. In his eighteenth year he had been consulted 
as an expert in the Talmud. Pampered, sought 
after, married while young to the daughter of a rich 
man at Buda and thereby rendered independent, he 
became proud, self-conscious, and vain of his knowl- 
edge of the Talmud. On account of his Talmudical 
learning he was invited to be chief rabbi of the Ger- 
man community at Amsterdam (1710); he preferred 
to be called Chacham. Here he looked down with 
great contempt upon his Portuguese colleagues, 
especially upon Solomon Ayllon, and would never 
regard him as his equal in rank. " Chacham Zevi 
wishes to rank higher even than the prophet 
Moses," was the judgment passed upon him by 

As soon as the name of Chayon reached the ears 
of the German Chacham, he connected it with a 
former enemy of his at Bosna-Serai in Bosnia, where 
Zevi had been rabbi for a short time, and he imme- 
diately intimated to the Portuguese authorities that 
it would be wise to show no sort of favor to the 
stranger, as he was a man of evil notoriety. Nehe- 



miah Chayon explained that the mistake in his iden- 
tity was caused by similarity of names^ and behaved 
so very humbly towards Chacham Zevi, that the lat- 
ter soon informed the council that he had nothing 
to urge against the stranger, whose identity he had 
mistaken. Chayon appeared to have removed ev- 
ery obstacle from his path at Amsterdam, when 
Moses Chages, of Jerusalem, who was in Holland, 
sounded the alarm against him, perhaps because he 
feared him as a Palestinian rival. The heretical 

work printed at Berlin was put before him for exam- 
ination, as some members of the council did not trust 
their Chacham Ayllon. Scarcely had he looked into 
it, when he raised the cry of heresy. In fact, it did 
not need lengthy search in the book to find an ex- 
plicit enunciation of the doctrine of the Trinity. 
The German Chacham, having had his attention 
drawn by Moses Chages to Chayon's suspicious 
doctrine, again notified, almost ordered, the Portu- 
guese council, to banish instead of favoring the 
stranger. The council, not disposed to accept such 
abrupt orders, requested Chacham Zevi either to 
point out the heretical passages in Chayon's book, 
or to join with some members nominated by the 
council as a committee to examine it. Chacham 
Zevi, at the advice of Chages, rejected both pro- 
posals flatly, saying that as rabbi he was not obliged 
to bring forward proofs, but simply to pronounce 
final judgment. Still less did he choose to take 
council with Ayllon, as this would have been tanta- 
mount to recognizing him as a Talmudist of equal 
rank with himself. The haughty behavior of the 
Chacham, on the one hand, and Ayllon's sensitive- 
ness,- on the other, kindled a spark into a bright 

The Portuguese Chacham had reason to feel him- 
self slighted and to complain. His own congrega- 
tion had passed him over in this matter, shown dis- 
trust towards him, and set his opponent over him 



as a higher authority. Besides, he appears to have 
feared the cunning adventurer, who if persecuted 
might _ reveal more than was desirable of Ayllon's 
past history and relations to the Salonica heretics. 
He felt it his interest to remain on Chayon's side 
and protect him against the threatened banishment 
from Amsterdam. It was not difficult for him to 
prejudice a ^ member of the Portuguese council, 
Aaron de Pinto, a resolute, unbending, hard man, 
indifferent to spiritual problems, against the German 
Chacham, and persuade him of his duty to guard 
the independence of the old, respectable, and superi- 
or Portuguese, against the presumptuousness of the 
hitherto subordinate German, community. Ayllon 
converted the important question of orthodoxy and 
heresy into one of precedence between the com- 
munities. De Pinto treated the affair in this light, 
and the other members of the council conformed to 
his resolute will. He straightway rejected the in- 
terference of the German Chacham in an affair of 
concern only to the Portuguese community, broke 
off all negotiations with him, and commissioned 
Ayllon to appoint a committee of Portuguese to ex- 
amine and report on Chayon's work. Ayllon added 
to the college of rabbis four men, of whom only one 
understood the question. This one hesitated to 
join the committee, but was compelled to do so. 
The others were totally ignorant of theology, and 
accordingly dependent on Ayllon's judgment. 
Ayllon and the council, that is, Pinto, made the 
members of the committee swear to let no one see 
the copies of Chayon's work handed to them for 
examination, in fact, to keep everything secret until 
the final judgment was pronounced. The petty 
question of tolerating or expelling a begging adven- 
turer thus attained great importance. 

Whilst the Portuguese committee was still appar- 
ently engaged in the business of examination, Cha- 
cham Zevi, in conjunction with Moses Chages, 


hastened to pronounce sentence of excommunication 
against Chayon and his heretical book, because "he 
sought to draw Israel away from his God and to in- 
troduce strange gods (the Trinity).'^ No one was 
to have dealings with the author until he recanted 
his error. His writings in any case were to be com- 
mitted to the flames. This sentence of condemna- 
tion was printed in Hebrew and Portuguese, and 
circulated as a pamphlet. A great portion of the 
objections raised by these two zealots against Chay- 
on's writings was equally applicable to the Zohar 
and other Kabbalistic books. Short-sighted as they 
were, they saw only the evil consequences of the 
Kabbalistic errors, not their original cause. 

Great was the excitement of the Jews of Amster- 
dam over this step. Chacham Zevi and Moses 
Chages were affronted and abused in the streets by 
Portuguese Jews, and it was asserted that Ayllon 
employed disreputable people for this purpose. 
When Chages appeared the rabble shouted, " Stone 
him, slay him/ 1 Attempts at reconciliation failed ; 
partly through the dogmatism of Ayllon, who re- 
fused to admit himself wrong, partly through the 
firmness of De Pinto, who simply had in view the 
dignity of the Portuguese community. Pamphlets 
increased the bitter feeling. 

The quarrel of the Amsterdam Jews made a great 
stir elsewhere, and was the cause of party strife. 
Ayllon and De Pinto forbade the members of their 
community, under threat of excommunication, to 
read pamphlets, or to express themselves either 
verbally or in writing upon the matter. They also 
hastened the delivery of the verdict, which, however, 
was drawn up by Ayllon alone. It declared, in di- 
rect opposition to the decision of Chacham Zevi and 
Chages, that Chayon's work taught nothing offensive 
or dangerous to Judaism ; it contained only the doc- 
trines found in other Kabbalistic writings. It was 
officially made known in the synagogues (August 


H> I 7 I 3) that Chayon was acquitted of the charge 
of heresy brought against him, and that he had been 
innocently persecuted. The day after, the original 
cause of the strife was carried in triumph into the 
Portuguese chief synagogue, and to the vexation 
of his opponents, almost worshiped. The false 
prophet, who had openly declared, " Come, let us 
worship false gods," was loaded with homage by the 
Portuguese who^had staked life and property for the 
unity of God. They cheered Chayon in the syna- 
gogue, and cried " Down with his adversaries.'* In 
secret Chayon probably laughed at the complications 
he had caused, and at the credulity of the multitude. 
De Pinto took care that Chacham Zevi should not 
be supported by his own German community, but 
should be left exposed, without protection, to the 
rough treatment of his opponents. He found him- 
self entirely isolated, almost like a person under 

But help came to Chacham Zevi from without. 
The rabbis whose pretended letters of recommen- 
dation Chayon had prefixed to his work declared 
them to be forged. The deepest impression was 
made by the letters of the highly respected, aged 
rabbi of Mantua, Leon Brieli, who, well acquainted 
with the past history of the impostor, unmasked him, 
and approved of the sentence of condemnation 
against his heretical book. Brieli wrote urgently 
to the Amsterdam council, and to Ayllon, in Hebrew 
and Italian, imploring them not to lend their author- 
ity to so bad a cause. But they remained stubborn, 
answered him politely, yet evasively. The quarrel 
rose higher every day in the Amsterdam community; 
every one took one side or the other, defending 
his view with bitterness, passion, and frequently with 
vigorous action. Peace vanished from this pattern 
community, and dissension was carried into family 
life. Matters had gone so far that the leaders 
could not yield. Ayllon and De Pinto went to 


greater lengths in their obstinacy. They suggested 
that the Portuguese council summon Chacham Zevi, 
the rabbi of the German community (over whom it 
had no authority whatever), before its tribunal^ with 
the intention of shaming him or of inducing him to 
recant. When he paid no heed, it laid him and 
Moses Chages under the ban, most strictly forbid- 
ding the members of the community to have dealings 
with them, protect them, or intercede for them with 
the civic authorities. 

As though the council and the rabbinate had been 
infected by Chayon's baseness, they committed one 
meanness after another. In justification of their 
course of action they distorted the actual state of 
the case, and made use of notorious falsehoods. 
They encouraged, or at least countenanced, Chayon 
in calumniating his opponents with the vilest and 
most revolting aspersions, not only Chacham Zevi 
and Chages, but even the wise and venerable rabbi, 
Leon Brieli, and supported Chayon in all his audac- 
ities. The Portuguese council and the rabbinate, 
or rather De Pinto and Ayllon, for their colleagues 
were mere puppets, persecuted Chayon's opponents 
as though they were lost to all feeling of right. 
With Moses Chages they had an easy game. He 
lived on the Portuguese community ; and when they 
withdrew the means of sustenance, he was com- 
pelled to leave Amsterdam with his helpless family 
and migrate to Altona. They also pressed Chacham 
Zevi hard, annoyed him, accused him before the civil 
authorities, and prevented any one's assisting him. 
He, too, left Amsterdam, either De Pinto procuring 
his banishment at the hands of the magistrates, or 
Chacham Zevi, in order to anticipate scandalous 
expulsion, going into banishment of his own accord. 
He repaired to London, iti the first instance, then 
by way of Breslau to Poland, and was everywhere 
honorably received and treated. 

His opponents, Chayon, Ayllon, and De Pinto, were 


not able to enjoy the fruits of their victory. The 
apparently trivial dispute had assumed large dimen- 
sions. Almost all the German, Italian, Polish, and 
even some African communities with their rabbis 
espoused the cause of the persecuted Chacham Zevi, 
and hurled sentences of excommunication upon the 
unscrupulous heretic. These anathemas were pub- 
lished, and unsparingly revealed Chayon's villainy, 
bringing to light the sentence passed upon him 
years before at Jerusalem. The exposure of his 
character by witnesses who came from countries 
where his past history was well known, contributed 
to ruin the false prophet of the new Trinity. 

But the Portuguese of Amsterdam, or at least 
their leaders, would not drop him, either because 
they believed his audacious lies or from a sense of 
shame and obstinacy. They saw clearly, however, 
that Chayon must take steps to calm the storm 
raised against him. They therefore favored his 
journey to the East, providing him with money and 
recommendations to influential Jews and Christians, 
who were to aid him in loosing the ban passed upon 
him in the Turkish capital. But the journey proved 
full of thorns for Chayon ; no Jew admitted him into 
his house, or gave him entertainment. Like Cain, 
curse-laden, he was obliged to flee from place to 
place in Europe. At last he had to take ship in 
haste to Constantinople. He was followed by fresh 
accusations of heresy, not only from Chages and 
Naphtali Cohen, but also from the highly esteemed 
Kabbalist Joseph Ergas, and the London preacher 
David Nieto, who calmly exposed, in Hebrew and 
Spanish, the heresy, falsehood, and villainy of this 
hypocritical Sabbatian. 

At Constantinople Chayon was avoided by the 
Jews, and treated as an outcast ; but his Amsterdam 
letters of recommendation paved the way for him 
with a vizir, who ordered his Jewish agents to accord 
him support. In spite of his artifices, however, the 


rabbinate of Constantinople refused to remove the 
sentence against him, but referred him to the college 
of Jerusalem, the first to proscribe him. Several 
years elapsed before three rabbis, probably intimi- 
dated by the vizir, declared themselves ready to 
free Chayon from the ban, but they added the con- 
dition that he should never again teach, preach,^ or 
publish Kabbalistic doctrines. Chayon bound him- 
self by a solemn oath, given to be broken at the 
first opportunity. With a letter, which testified to 
his re-admission into the Jewish communion^ he 
hastened to Europe for fresh adventures and im- 
postures. . - -L j j 

Meanwhile the Sabbatian intoxication had spread 
in Poland, especially in Podolia and the district of 
Lemberg. There are revolting evidences extant 
of the immorality of the Podolian Sabbatians : how 
they wallowed in a pool of shameless profligacy, all 
the while pretending to redeem the world. Their 
violation and contempt of Tadmudical Judaism were 
for a long time kept secret, but they strove to win 
adherents, preaching, and explaining the Zohar to 
support their immoral theories. As their sect grew, 
they raised the mask of piety a little, came out more 
boldly, and were solemnly excommunicated by the 
Lemberg rabbinate with extinguished tapers in the 
synagogue. But this sect could not be suppressed 
by such means. Its members were inspired with a 
fanatical desire to scorn the Talmud, the breath of 
life of the Polish Jews, and to set up in its place the 
Kabbala and its Bible, the Zohar, and this plan they 
endeavored to put into execution. 

Their leaders secretly sent (1725) an emissary in 
the person of Moses Meir Kamenker into Moravia, 
Bohemia, and Germany, to establish a connection 
with the Sabbatians of these countries, and perhaps 
also to beg for money for their undertaking. Kam- 
enker traveled through several communities without 
being found out. Who could divine the thoughts 


of this begging Polish rabbi, who understood how 
to dispute in the manner of the Talmud, and rolled 
his eyes in a pious, hypocritical manner? Moses 
Meir entered into relations with Jonathan Eibeschutz 
at Prague, who though young was regarded as a 
most thorough and acute Talmudist, but who was 
entangled in the snares of the Sabbatian Kabbah. 
Moses Meir pressed on unrecognized to Mannheim, 
where a secret Sabbatian of Judah Chassid's following 
passed himself off among his companions as the 
Messiah returned to earth. From Mannheim these 
two Polish Sabbatians threw out their nets, and 
deluded the simple with sounding phrases from the 
Zohar. Their main doctrine was that Jews devoted 
to the Talmud had not the right faith, which was 
rooted only in the Kabbala. At the same time a 
work, apparently Kabbalistic, was disseminated 
from Prague, Its equal can scarcely be found for 
absurdity, perversity, and blasphemy ; the coarsest 
notions being brought into connection with the 
Godhead in Talmudic and Zoharistic forms of ex- 
pression. It also develops the doctrine of persons 
in the Godhead the Primeval One and the God 
of Israel, and hints that from a higher standpoint 
the Torah and the laws have no significance. It 
was reported at the time that Jonathan Eibeschutz 
was the author of this production, as revolting as it 
is absurd. 

Chance brought these underhand proceedings to 
light, Moses Meir was enticed to Frankfort by 
promises, and in the house of Rabbi Jacob Kahana 
his conduct was exposed. Many heretical writings 
were found upon him as well as letters by Sabba- 
tians, amongst them letters from and to Eibeschutz. 
An examination of witnesses was held by three rabbis 
(July, 1725). Several witnesses denounced Moses 
Meir, Isaiah Chassid, and Lobele Prosnitz as closely 
allied fanatical Sabbatians, Eibeschutz also being 
connected with them. These three, indeed, regarded 


him as Sabbatai's successor, as the genuine Mes- 
siah. The witnesses averred that they had received 
Kabbalistic heretical writings about the Song of 
Solomon, and others, from Moses Meir. They 
pretended also to have heard many blasphemies 
that could not be repeated. Because of the writ- 
ings found upon Moses Mei'r Kamenker and the 
testimony of witnesses, the rabbinate of Frankfort 
pronounced * upon him, his companions, and all 
Sabbatians, the severest possible sentence, decree- 
ing that no one should have dealings with them in 
any form whatever, and that every Jew should be 
bound to inform the rabbis of the secret Sabbatians, 
and reveal their misconduct without respect of 
persons. The rabbis of the German communities 
of Altona-Hamburg and Amsterdam joined in this 
sentence ; they ordered it to be read in the syna- 
gogues for the information of all, and had it printed. 
The same was done at Frankfort-on-the-Oder at 
fair-time in the presence of many Jews from other 
towns, and several Polish rabbis did the same. 
They at last realized that only by united forces and 
continuous; efforts could an end be put to the follies 
of the Sabbatians. 

Just at this time Chayon returned to Europe, and 
increased the confusion. To protect himself from 
persecution, he secretly approached Christians, 
obtained access to the imperial palace at Vienna, 
partly severed his connection with the Jews, reviled 
them as blind men who reject the true faith, let it be 
understood that he, too, taught the doctrine of the 
Trinity, and that he could bring over the Jews. 
Provided with a letter of protection from the court, 
he proceeded on his journey, and again played a 
double game, living secretly as a Sabbatian, openly 
as ^an orthodox Jew released from the interdict. 
It is hardly credible, as contemporaries relate of 
Chayon,^that at the age of nearly eighty, he took 
about with him as his wife a notorious prostitute, 


whom he had picked up in Hungary. He did not 
meet with so good a reception this time ; distrust 
had been excited against secret Sabbatians, especi- 
ally against him. At Prague he was not admitted 
into the city. At Berlin, Chayon wrote to a former 
acquaintance that, if the money he needed were not 
sent him, he was resolved to be baptized to the 
disgrace of the Jews. At Hanover, his papers were 
taken from him, which exposed him still more. 
Thus the rogue dragged himself to Amsterdam in 
the hope of again finding enthusiastic friends. But 
Ayllon would have nothing more to do with him ; he 
is said to have repented having favored Chayon. 
The latter was included in the proscription of the 
Sabbatians and excommunicated (1726). Moses 
Chages, formerly persecuted by him, now occupied 
an honored position in Altona. He was considered 
the chief of the heresy judges, so to say, and he 
dealt Chayon the last blow. The latter could 
not hold his own in Europe or in the East, 
and therefore repaired to northern Africa, where he 
died. His son was converted to Christianity, and, 
whilst at Rome, through his false, or half-true accusa- 
tions, he drew the attention of the Inquisition to 
ancient Jewish literature, which he declared to be 
inimical to Christianity. 



Poetical Works of Moses Chayim Luzzatto Luzzatto ensnared in the 
Kabbala His Contest with .Rabbinical Authorities Luzzatto's 
last Drama Jonathan Eibeschutz Character and Education of 
Eibeschutz His Relations with the Jesuits in Prague The Aus- 
trian War of Succession Expulsion of the Jews from Prague 
Eibeschutz becomes Rabbi of Altona Jacob Emden Eibe- 
schutz charged with Heresy The Controversy between Emden 
and Eibeschutz The Amulets Party Strife Interference by 
Christians and the Civil Authorities Revival of Sabbatianism 
Jacob Frank Lejbowicz and the Frankists The Doctrine of the 
Trinity Excesses of the Frankists. 

1727 17600. E. 

THE disgrace and disappointment caused by vision- 
aries and impostors during almost a whole century, 
the lamentable effects of the careers of Sabbatai 
Zevi and his band of prophets Cardoso, Mordecai 
of Eisenstadt, Querido, Judah Chassid, Chayim Ma- 
lach, Chayon, and others failed to suppress Kab- 
balistic and Messianic extravagances. As yet these 
impostors only invited fresh imitators, who found 
a credulous circle ready to believe in them, and thus 
new disorders were begotten. The unhealthy hu- 
mors which, during the lapse of ages, had been in- 
troduced into the organism of Judaism appeared as 
hideous eruptions on the surface, but this might be 
considered the sign of convalescence. Corruption 
had seized even the most delicate organs. A gifted 
youth, endowed with splendid talents, who in ordi- 
nary circumstances would have become an ornament 
to Judaism, was tainted by the general degradation, 
and under the spell of mysticism misapplied his ex- 
cellent gifts, and contributed to error. It is impos- 
sible to resist a feeling of sorrow at finding this 
amiable man with his ideal character falling into 


errors which bring him down to the level of such 
impure spirits as Chayon and Lobele Prosnitz a 
many-colored sunbeam extinguished in a swamp. If 
we denounce the Kabbala, which has begotten such 
unspeakable misconceptions of Judaism, and are 
justly wrathful against its authors and propagators, 
we feel specially indignant when we find two noble 
young men of high endowments and purity of life, 
Solomon Molcho and Luzzatto, following its chim- 
eras, and thereby precipitating themselves into the 
abyss. Both literally sacrificed their lives for dreams, 
the confused imagery of which was suggested by the 
dazing medley of the Kabbala. Although Luzzatto 
did not meet with a tragic end like the Portuguese 
Marrano who shared his convictions, yet he, too, 
was a martyr, none the less because his wounds had 
been inflicted by himself under the influence of ex- 

Moses Chayim Luzzatto (born 1707, died 1747) 
was the son of very wealthy parents, natives of 
Padua. His father, who carried on an extensive silk 
business, spared no expense in educating him. The 
two ancient languages, Hebrew and Latin, which in 
Italy were in a measure a literary necessity, the one 
among Jews, the other among Christians, Luzzatto 
acquired in early youth ; but they had an influence 
on his mind altogether different from that which 
they obtained over his contemporaries. Both en- 
riched his genius, and promoted its higher develop- 
ment. Latin opened for him the realm of the beauti- 
ful, Hebrew the gates of the sublime. Luzzatto had 
a poet's delicately-strung soul, an ^Eolian harp, 
which responded to every breath with harmonious, 
tuneful vibrations. His poetic gift displayed at once 
power and sweetness, wealth of fancy and richness 
of imagery, combined with due sense of proportion. 
A believer in the transmigration of souls might have 
said that the soul of the Hebrew-Castilian singer, 
Jehuda Halevi, had been born again in Luzzatto, but 


had become more perfect, more matured, more ten- 
der, and endowed with a more delicate sense of 
harmony, encompassed as he was by the musical 
atmosphere of his Italian fatherland. Even in early 
boyhood every event, joyful or sad, was to him a 
complete picture, a little work of art, wherein color 
and euphony were revealed together. A youth of 
seventeen, he discerned with such remarkable clear- 
ness the hidden charm of language, the laws of har- 
mony, deducible from the higher forms of eloquence 
as from poetry, and the grace of rhythm and cadence, 
that he composed a work on the subject, and illus- 
trated it by beautiful examples from sacred poetry. 
He contemplated introducing a new meter into 
modern Hebrew poetry, in order to obtain greater 
variety in the succession of long and short syllables, 
and thus produce a musical cadence. The Hebrew 
language is usually classified among the dead 
tongues. To Luzzatto, however, it was full of life, 
vigor, youth, clearness, and euphony. He used 
Hebrew as a pliant instrument, and drew from it 
sweet notes and caressing melodies ; he renewed 
its youth, invested it with a peculiar charm, in short, 
lived in it as though his ear had absorbed the rich 
tones of Isaiah's eloquence. Incomparably more 
gifted than Joseph Penso de la Vega, Luzzatto, like- 
wise in his seventeenth year, composed a drama on 
the biblical theme of Samson and the Philistines. 
This early work gives promise of the future master. 
The versification is faultless, the thoughts original, 
and the language free from bombast and redun- 
dancy. His Hebrew prose, too, is an agreeable 
contrast to the insipid, ornate, and laboriously witty 
style of his Jewish contemporaries ; it has much of 
the simplicity, polish, and vivacity of the biblical 
narrative. Before his twentieth year Luzzatto had 
composed one hundred and fifty hymns, which are 
only an imitation of the old psalter, but the language 
of which is marked by fervor and purity. It was 


perhaps during the same period that he composed 
his second Hebrew drama, in four acts " The High 
Tower, or The Innocence of the Virtuous" beauti- 
ful in versification, melodious in language, but poor 
in thought. The young poet had not yet seen life 
in its fullness, nor keenly studied its contrasts and 
struggles. He was acquainted only with idyllic 
family life and academic peace. Even virtue and 
vice, love and selfishness, which he desired to rep- 
resent in his drama, were known to him but by hear- 
say. His muse becomes eloquent only when she 
sings of God's sublimity. Isolated verses are fault- 
less, but the work as a whole is that of a schoolboy. 
He was too dependent on Italian models still 
walked on stilts. 

This facility and versatility in clothing both plati- 
tudes and original thoughts in new as well as bor- 
rowed forms, and the over-abundance of half- 
matured ideas, which, if he could have perfected 
them, might have proved a blessing to Judaism and 
to himself, were transformed into a curse. One 
day (Sivan, 1727) he was seized with the desire to 
imitate the mystic language of the Zohar, and he 
succeeded as well as in the case of the psalms. 
His sentences and expressions were deceptively 
similar to those of his model, just as high-sounding, 
apparently full of meaning, in reality meaningless. 
This success turned his head, and led him astray. 
Instead of perceiving that if the Kabbalistic style of 
the Zohar is capable of imitation, that book must be 
the work of a clever human author, Luzzatto inferred 
that his own creative faculty did not proceed from 
natural endowments, but, as in the case of the Zohar, 
was the product of a higher inspiration. In other 
words, he shared the mistaken view of his age with 
respect to the origin and value of the Kabbala. 
Isaiah Bassan, of Padua who instructed Luzzatto 
in his early years had infused mystical poison into 
his healthy blood. However, any other teacher 


would also have led him into the errors of the Kab- 
bala, from which there was no escape. The air cf 
the Ghettos was impregnated with Kabbala. From 
his youth upwards Luzzatto heard daily that great 
adepts in mysticism possessed special tutelar spirits 
(Maggid), who every day gave them manifestations 
from above. Why should not he, too, be vouchsafed 
this divine gift of grace? Some of the mystical 
writings of Lurya, at that time still a rarity, fell into 
his hands. He learnt them by heart, became en- 
tirely absorbed in them, and thus completed his de- 
rangement. Luzzatto was possessed by a peculiar 
delusion. His naturally clear and methodical intel- 
lect, his fine sense of the simplicity and beauty of 
the poetry of the Bible, and his aesthetic conceptions 
with regard to Italian and Latin literature urged 
him to seek clearness and common sense even in 
the chaos of the Kabbala, the divine origin of which 
was accepted by him as a fact. He in no way re- 
sembled the wild visionaries Moses Zacut and Mor- 
decai of Eisenstadt ; he did not content himself with 
empty formulas and flourishes, but sought for sound 
sense. This he found rather in his own mind than 
in the Zohar or in the writings of Lurya. Never- 
theless, he lived under the delusion that a divine 
spirit had vouchsafed him deep insight into the Kab- 
bala, solved its riddles, and disentangled its meshes. 
Self-deception was the cause of his errors, and re- 
ligious fervor, instead of protecting, only plunged 
him in more deeply. His errors were fostered by 
the conviction that existing Judaism with its excres- 
cences would be unintelligible without the Kabbala, 
the theories of which could alone explain the phe- 
nomena, the strife, and the contradictions in the 
world, and the tragical history of the Jewish people. 
Israel God's people the noblest portion of crea- 
tion, stands enfeebled and abased on the lowest 
rung of the ladder of nations; its religion mis- 
judged, its struggles fruitless. To account for this 



bewildering fact, Luzzatto constructed a system of 

It flattered the vanity of this young man of twenty 
to gain this insight into the relations of the upper 
and the lower worlds, to explain them in the mysti- 
.cal language of the Zohar, and thus become an im- 
portant member in the series of created beings. 
Having firmly convinced himself of the truth of the 
fundamental idea of the Kabbala, he accepted all its 
excrescences transmigration of souls, anagrams, 
and necromancy. He wrote reams of Kabbalistic 
chimeras, and composed a second Zohar (Zohar 
Tinyana) with appropriate introductions (Tikkunim) 
and appendices. The more facility he acquired, the 
stronger became his delusion that he, too, was 
inspired by a great spirit, and was a second, perhaps 
more perfect Simon bar Yochai. Little by little 
there crept over him in his solitude the fantastic 
conviction that he was the pre-ordained Messiah, 
called to redeem, by means of the second Zohar, the 
souls of Israel and the whole world. 

Luzzatto could not long bear to hide his light 
under a bushel. He began operations by disclosing 
to Israel Marini and Israel Treves, two young men 
of the same way of thinking as himself, that his 
guardian spirit had bidden him grant them knowl- 
edge of his new Zohar. His disciples in the Kab- 
bala were dazzled and delighted, and could not keep 
the secret. The result was that Venetian Kabbal- 
ists sought out the young and wealthy prodigy at 
his home in Padua, and thus confirmed him in his 
fanaticism. A vivacious, energetic, impetuous Pole, 
Yekutiel (Kussiel) of Wilna, who had come to Padua 
to study medicine, joined Luzzatto's circle. To hear 
of the latter, join him, abandon his former studies, 
and devote himself to mysticism was for the Pole a 
rapid, easy resolution. It was far harder for him to 
keep the secret. No sooner had he been initiated 
by Luzzatto than he blazoned forth this new miracle 


to the world. Kussiel circulated extravagant letters 
on the subject, which came into the hands of Moses 
Chages in Altona. The latter, who had stoutly op- 
posed and effectually silenced Chayon and the other 
Sabbatian visionaries, was, so to speak, the recog- 
nized official zealot, whose utterances were decisive, 
on matters of faith ; and the rabbi of the so-called 
"three communities" of Altona, Hamburg, and 
Wandsbeck, Ezekiel Katzenellenbogen, who had 
excommunicated Moses Meir Kamenker and his 
confederates, was subservient to him. Chages 
therefore requested the Venetian community to 
suppress the newly-born brood of heretics before 
the poison of their doctrine could spread further. 

The Venetian community, however, was not dis- 
posed to denounce Luzzatto as a heretic, but treated 
him with great forbearance, probably out of consid- 
eration for his youth, talents, and the wealth of his 
family, and merely ordered him to justify himself. 
The enthusiastic youth rebelled against this demand, 
proudly gave Chages to understand that he did not 
recognize his authority, repudiated the suspicion 
of Sabbatian heresy, and insisted that he had been 
vouchsafed revelations from Heaven. He referred 
him to his instructor Bassan, who would never refuse 
to testify that his orthodoxy was above suspicion. 
In this Luzzatto was perfectly right. Bassan was 
so infatuated with his pupil that he would have 
palliated his most scandalous faults, and encouraged 
rather than checked his extravagances. In vain 
Chages and Katzenellenbogen threatened him and 
the Paduan community with the severest form of 
excommunication, if he did not abandon his preten- 
sions to second sight and mystical powers. Luz- 
zatto remained unmoved : God had chosen him, like 
many before, to reveal to him His mysteries. The 
other Italian rabbis showed themselves as lukewarm 
in the matter as those of Padua and Venice. Moses 
Chages called on three rabbis to form a tribunal, 



but all three declined to interfere. He exerted him- 
self so zealously, however, that he persuaded several 
German rabbis (June, 1 730) to excommunicate all 
who should compose works in the language of the 
Zohar in the name of angels or saints. This threat 
proved effectual. Isaiah Bassan was obliged to 
repair to Padua and obtain a promise from his fav- 
orite disciple to discontinue his mystical writings 
and his instruction of young Kabballsts, or emigrate 
to the Holy Land. At last the Venetian rabbinate 
was stirred up to intervene, and sent three repre- 
sentatives to Padua Jacob Belillos, Moses Men- 
achem Merari, and Nehemiah Vital Cohen, in 
whose presence Luzzatto was obliged to repeat his 
promise under oath. He was compelled to deliver 
his Kabbalistic writings to his teacher Bassan, and 
they were placed under seal. Thus the storm which 
had threatened him was averted. 

Luzzatto appears to have been sobered by these 
events. He occupied himself with his business, 
wrote more poetry, and resolved to marry. He 
was a happy father, lived in concord with his parents 
and brothers and sisters, and was highly respected. 
The evil spirit, however, to whom he had sold him- 
self would not release him, and led him back to his 
youthful follies. A quarrel in the family and business 
misfortunes in connection with his father's house, in 
which he was a partner, appear to have been the 
cause of this renewal of his former studies. Dis- 
quieted and troubled in the present he sought to 
learn the future by means of Kabbalistic arts. He 
began once more to write down his mystical fancies, 
and ventured to show them to Bassan, from whom 
he obtained permission to publish them. It was 
whispered that Luzzatto performed incantations by 
means of magic, and that his teacher had handed 
him for publication some of the sealed writings in 
his custody. The Venetian council of rabbis, owing 
to certain reports, was especially excited and pre- 


judiced against him. Luzzatto had written a sharp 
reply to Leon Modena's forcible work against the 
Kabbala ; and as the latter was a Venetian rabbi, 
though of doubtful sincerity, the members of the 
Venetian council, Samuel Aboab and his five col- 
leagues, considered any attack upon him an insult to 
their own honor. Their esprit de corps ^ roused them 
to greater activity than had zeal for their faith, when 
seemingly in peril. True Venetians, they had in 
their service a spy, Salman of Lemberg, who watched 
and reported Luzzatto's movements to them. As 
long as he was prosperous and surrounded by friends 
the Venetian rabbis had treated him with remark- 
able indulgence, and bestowed on him a title of 
honor; but after his family fell into misfortune, 
when he was on the verge of ruin, and deserted by 
his friends and flatterers, their regard for him ceased, 
and they could not find enough stones to throw at 
him. They believed one of their number who 
asserted that he had found implements of magic in 
Luzzatto's house. Absurdly enough, too, they re- 
proached Luzzatto with having learnt Latin ; to a 
man who had studied this language of Satan no 
angel, they said, could appear ! The members of 
the Venetian council of rabbis believed, or pre- 
tended to believe that Luzzatto had boasted that 
in the Messianic age his psalms would take the 
place of David's psalter. They now showed them- 
selves as active as they had previously been negli- 
gent in the persecution of the unfortunate author. 
They sent three inquisitors to Padua to examine 
him, search his house for writings, and 'make him 
declare on oath that he would publish nothing with- 
out first submitting it to the censorship of the Vene- 
tian council of rabbis. The poet, deeply mortified, 
haughtily answered that this council had no author- 
ity whatever over him, a member of the community 
of Padua. The Venetian rabbis then excommuni- 
cated him, and condemned his writings to the flames 


(December, 1 734), taking care to give notice of their 
proceedings to all the communities in Germany, 
particularly to the "big drum," Chages. The 
Paduan community also abandoned the unfortunate 
Luzzatto. To the honor of his teacher Isaiah Bassan 
be it said, that he adhered to him as staunchly in 
misfortune as in prosperity. The rabbi Katzenel- 
lenbogen, or rather his crier Chages, on this occasion 
made the sensible suggestion that the study of the 
Kabbala be altogether forbidden to young men, to 
prevent their falling into deplorable errors, as had 
hitherto been the case ; but the proposition failed to 
meet with the approbation of other rabbis. Twenty 
years later the evils produced by the Kabbala 
became so patent, that the synod of Polish Jews 
enacted a decree to the above effect without encount- 
ering opposition. 

The unfortunate, excommunicated dreamer was 
obliged to leave his parents, his wife and child, and 
go forth a wanderer ; but what grieved him even 
more was separation from his fellow Kabbalists and 
his mystic conventicle. He cherished the hope of 
being able to print his Kabbalistic writings in 
Amsterdam. Alas for his want of experience ! 
Who would help him after fortune had turned her 
back ! At Frankfort-on-theMain he was rudely 
awakened from his pleasant dream. As soon as 
the ra"bbi, Jacob Kahana, heard of his arrival, he 
insisted that he should promise on oath to abandon 
his Kabbalistic illusions, and to refrain from writing 
on or instructing any one in the doctrines of the 
Zohar (January 12, 1735). One liberty, however, 
Luzzatto reserved for himself : to pursue his favorite 
studies at the age of forty in the Holy Land. Many 
rabbis of Germany, Poland, Holland, and Denmark, 
who were informed of Luzzatto's concessions, agreed 
in advance to his excommunication in case he should 
break his word. The name of Chages was of course 
upon the list. 


Deeply humiliated and disappointed, Luzzatto 
repaired'to Amsterdam. Here a gleam of sunlight 
smiled on him again. The Portuguese community 
received him kindly, as though desirous of atoning 
for the injustice he had experienced at the hands of 
the Germans and Poles. They granted him a 
pension ; and he found a hospitable home in the 
house of Moses de Chaves, a wealthy Portuguese, 
and became instructor to his son. To be indepen- 
dent, he applied himself, like Spinoza, to the polish- 
ing of lenses, and this led him to study physics and 
mathematics. He found himself so comfortably 
settled that he induced not only his wife, but also 
his parents to come to Amsterdam, and they were 
well received by the Portuguese community. This 
favorable turn "in his fortunes encouraged him to 
resume his chimerical theories. He repeatedly 
exhorted his disciples in Padua to remain true to 
their Kabbalistic studies ; whereupon the council of 
rabbis at Venice, which had received intelligence of 
his proceedings, pronounced sentence of excommu- 
nication in the synagogues and in the Ghetto against 
all who possessed Kabbalistic writings or psalms 
of Luzzatto, and failed to deliver them to the 

In addition to his various occupations, with the 
Kabbala for his spiritual wants and the polishing 
of lenses for his temporal needs, Luzzatto pub- 
lished a masterpiece second to none in Hebrew 
poetry; a drama, perfect in form, language, and 
thought ; a memorial of his gifts calculated to immor- 
talize him and the language in which it is composed. 
Under the unpretentious form of an occasional poem 
in honor of the wedding of his disciple, Jacob de 
Chaves, with the high-born maiden Rachel de Vega 
Enriques, he published his drama, "Glory to the 
Virtuous" (La-Yesharim Tehilla). It differs materi- 
ally from his earlier works. The poet had in the 
interval enjoyed various opportunities of gaining 


pleasant and painful experiences, and of enriching 
his mental powers. ^ His muse, grown more mature, 
had become Acquainted with the intricacies of life. 
Luzzatto had learnt to know the vulgar herd well 
enough to see that it resembles a reed swaying to 
and fro^in the water, and is kept by the fetters of 
Deceit in a state of ignorance and infirmity against 
which Wisdom herself is powerless. He had been 
taught by experience how Folly yoked with Igno- 
rance makes merry over those born of the Spirit, 
and mocks at their labors, when they measure the 
paths of the stars, observe the life of the vegetable 
world, behold God's works, and account them of 
more value than Mammon. Superficiality sees in all 
the events of life and of nature, however powerfully 
they may appeal to the heart, only the sport of 
Chance or the inflexible laws of heartless Necessity. 
Luzzatto had proved in his own case that Craft and 
Pride closely united can deprive Merit of its crown, 
and place it on their own heads. None the less he 
cherished the conviction that Merit, though mis- 
judged and calumniated, at last wins the day, and 
that its acknowledgment (Fame) will fall to its share 
like a bride, if only it allows itself to be led by 
Reason and her handmaid Patience, averting its 
gaze from ignoble strife, and becoming absorbed in 
the wonders of Creation. " Could we, with undim- 
med eyes, for a moment see the world as it is, 
divested of pretense, we should see Pride and Folly, 
which speak so scornfully of Virtue and Knowledge, 
deeply humbled." Through an extraordinary occur- 
rence, a kind of miracle, Truth is revealed, Deceit 
unmasked, Pride becomes a laughing-stock, and the 
fickle mob is led to recognize true Merit. 

Luzzatto in his dramatic parable clothes and 
vivifies this train of ideas, and enunciates them in 
monologues and dialogues through the mouth of 
acting, or, more correctly, speaking characters. 
Luzzatto's masterpiece is indeed not a drama in 


the strict sense of the word. The characters repre- 
sented are not of flesh and blood, but mere abstrac- 
tions : Reason and Folly, Merit and Deceit, are 
placed on the stage. The dramatic action is slight. 
It is in truth a beautiful wreath of fragrant flowers 
of poesy, a series of delightful monologues and 
dialogues. In it Luzzatto embodies deep thoughts, 
difficult to quicken into life or to paint in poetical 
colors ; but he succeeded. The wonderful evolution 
of the vegetable world, the extraordinary phenomena 
of light, are treated in dramatic verse by Luzzatto 
with the same facility as the appropriate subjects 
for poetry, and this too in the Hebrew language, 
not readily lending itself to new forms of thought, 
and with the self-imposed fetters of a meter never 
sinned against. His style is dignified, and he 
employed a diction quite his own, replete with 
youthful charms, beauty, and harmony. Thereby he 
supplied a new impulse for the coming age. = When 
the mists of error passed away, the general chaos 
of thought was reduced to some sort of order, and 
a happier period opened, young poets derived 
inspiration from the soft warm rays diffused by the 
genius of Luzzatto. A modern Hebrew poet who 
helped to accomplish the transition from the old to 
the new period, David Franco Mendes, owes his 
inspiration to Luzzatto. 

What might not Luzzatto have accomplished if 
he could have liberated his mind from the extrava- 
gant follies of the Kabbala ! But it held him captive, 
and drew him not long after the completion of his 
drama (about 1744) to Palestine. Here he hoped 
to be able to follow unmolested the inspirations of 
his excited fancy, or play the role of a Messiah. 
From Safet, too, he continued his communications 
with his band of disciples ; but before he could com- 
mence operations he fell a victim to the plague, in 
the fortieth year of his age. His body was buried in 
Tiberias. The two greatest modern Hebrew poets, 


Luzzatto and Jehuda Halevi, were to rest in Hebrew 
soil. Even the tongues of the slanderous Jews of 
Palestine, to whom Luzzatto, with his peculiarities, 
must have seemed an enigma, could only speak well 
of him after his death. Nevertheless he sowed bad 
seed. His Italian followers reintroduced the Kab- 
bala into Italy. His Polish disciple, Yekutiel of 
Wilna, whose buffooneries had first got him into 
trouble, is said to have led an adventurer's life in 
Poland and Holland, playing scandalous tricks 
under the mask of mysticism. Another Pole, Elijah 
Olianow, who belonged to Luzzatto's following, and 
proclaimed him as Messiah and himself as his Elijah, 
did not enjoy the best of reputations. This man 
took part in the disgraceful disorders which broke 
out in Altona after Luzzatto's death, and which, 
again stirring up the Sabbatian mire, divided the 
Jews of Europe into two hostile camps. 

The foul pool which for centuries, since the pro- 
hibition of free inquiry and the triumph of its enemy 
the Kabbala, had been in process of formation in 
Judaism was, with perverse stupidity, being contin- 
ually stirred up, defiling the pure and the impure. 
The irrational excitement roused by the vain, false 
Messiah of Smyrna was not suppressed by the pro- 
scription of Chayon and the Polish Sabbatians, but 
showed a still more ill-favored aspect, forcing its 
way into circles hitherto closed against it. The 
rabbis, occupied with the practical and dialectical 
interpretation of the Talmud, had hitherto refused 
admission to the Kabbala on equal terms, and only 
here and there had surreptitiously introduced some- 
thing from it. They had opposed the Sabbatian 
heresy, and pronounced an anathema against it. But 
one influential rabbi espoused its cause, invested it 
with importance, and so precipitated a conflict which 
undermined discipline and order, and blunted still 
more the sense of dignity and self-respect, of truth 
and rectitude. The occasion of the conflict was the 


petty jealousy of two rabbis. Its true origin lay 
deeper, in intellectual perversity and the secret dis- 
like on the one hand to the excess of ritualistic ob- 
servances, and on the other to the extravagances 
of the Kabbala. The authors of this far-reaching 
schism two Polish rabbbis of Altona each uncon- 
sciously had taken a step across the threshold of 
orthodoxy. Diametrically opposed to each other in 
faculties and temperament, they were suited by their 
characters to be pitted against each other. Both 
Jonathan Eibeschiitz and Jacob Emden had taken 
part in the foregoing conflicts, and eventually gave 
these quarrels a more extended influence. 

Jonathan Eibeschiitz. or Eibeschiitzer (born at 
Cracow 1690, died 1/64), was descended from a 
Polish family of Kabbalists. His father, Nathan 
Nata, was for a short time rabbi of the small Mo- 
ravian town of Eibenschitz, from which his son de- 
rived his surname. Endowed with a remarkably 
acute intellect and a retentive memory, thejouthful 
Jonathan, early left an orphan, received the irregular 
education, or rather bewildering instruction of the 
age, which supplied him with only two subjects on 
which to exercise his brains the far-reaching sphere 
of the Talmud, with its labyrinthine mazes, and the 
ensnaring Kabbala, with its shallows full of hidden 
rocks. The one offered abundant food for his 
hungry reason, the other for his ill-regulated fancy. 
With his hair-splitting ingenuity he might have made 
an adroit, pettifogging attorney, qualified to make 
out a brilliant and successful justification for the 
worst case ; or, had he had access to the higher 
mathematics of Newton and Leibnitz, he might have 
accomplished much in this field as a discoverer. 
Eibeschiitz had some taste for branches of learning 
beyond the sphere of the Talmud, and also a certain 
vanity that made him desire to excel in them ; but 
this he could not satisfy. The perverted spirit of 
the Polish and German Tews of the time closed to 


every aspiring youth the gates of the sciences based 
on truth and keen observation, and drove him into 
the mazes of Rabbinical and Talmudic literature. 
From lack of more wholesome food for his active 
intellect, young Eibeschutz filled his brain with per- 
nicious matter, and want of method forced him into 
the crooked paths of sophistry. He imagined 
indeed, or wished it to be supposed, that he had 
acquired every variety of knowledge, but his writings 
on ^subjects not connected with the Talmud, so far 
as it is possible to judge of them, his sermons, his 
Kabbalistic compositions, and a mass of occasional 
papers, reveal nothing that can be described as 
wisdom or solid learning. Eibeschutz was not even 
familiar with the Jewish philosophers who wrote in 
Hebrew ; he was at home only in the Talmud. This 
he could manipulate like soft clay, give it any form 
he desired, and he could unravel the most intricately 
entangled skeins. He surpassed all his contem- 
poraries and predecessors not only in his knowledge 
of the Talmud, but also in ready wit. 

But Eibeschutz did not derive complete satisfac- 
tion from his scholarship ; it only served to sharpen 
his wits, afford him amusement, and dazzle others. 
His restless nature and fiery temperament could 
not content themselves with this, but aspired to a 
higher goal. This goal, however, was unknown 
even to himself, or was only dimly shadowed before 
his mind. Hence his life and conduct appear enig- 
matical and full of contradictions. Had he lived in 
the age of the struggle for reform, for the loosening 
of the bands of authority, he would have been among 
the assailants, and would have employed his Tal- 
mudical learning and aggressive wit as levers to 
upheave the edifice of Rabbinical Judaism, and op- 
pose the Talmud with the weapons it had supplied. 
For he was easy-going, and disliked the gloomy 
piety of the German and Polish Jews ; and though 
impressed by it, he lacked fervor to yield to its in- 


fluence. He therefore found mysticism as inter- 
preted by the followers of Sabbatai very comforting : 
the Law was to be abolished by the commencement 
of the Messianic era, or the spirit of the Kabbala 
demanded no over-scrupulousness with regard to 
trifles. Nehemiah Chayon appears to have made a 
great impression on young Eibeschutz in Prague or 
Hamburg. With the Sabbatian Lobele Prosnitz, 
he was in constant, though secret intercourse. He 
studied thoroughly the works of Abraham Michael 
Cardoso, though they had been publicly condemned 
and branded as heretical. Eibeschutz had adopted 
the blasphemous tenets of these and other Sab- 
batians namely, that there is no relation of any 
kind between the Most High God, the First Cause, 
and the Universe, but that a second person in the 
Godhead, the God of Israel, the image and proto- 
type- of the former, created the world, gave the Law, 
chose Israel, in short governs the Finite. He ap- 
pears to have embraced also the conclusions deduced 
from this heretical theory, that Sabbatai Zevi was 
the true Messiah, that the second person of the 
Godhead was incorporated in him, and that by his 
appearance the Torah had ceased to have any 

But Eibeschutz had not sufficient strength of 
character or determination to act in conformity with 
his convictions. It would have been contrary to his 
nature to break openly with Rabbinical Judaism, and 
by proclaiming himself an anti-Talmudist, as had 
been done by several Sabbatians, to wage war 
against the whole of Judaism. He was too prac- 
tical and loved ease too well to expose himself to 
the disagreeable consequences of such a rupture. 
Should he, like Chayon, wander forth a fugitive 
through Asia and Europe, and back again ? Be- 
sides, he loved the Talmud and Rabbinical literature 
as food for his wit, and could not do without them. 
The contradictions in his career and the disorders 



which he originated may be traced to want of har- 
mony between his intellect and his temperament. 
Rabbinical Judaism did not altogether suit him, but 
the sources from -which it was derived were indis- 
pensable to him, and had they not been in existence 
he would have created them. Fettered by this con- 
tradiction he deceived not only the world, but also 
himself; he could not arrive at any clear under- 
standing with himself, and was a hypocrite without 
intending it. 

At one-and-twenty Eibeschutz directed a school 
in Prague, and a band of subtlety-loving Talmud 
students gathered round him, hung on his lips, and 
admired his stimulating method, and playful way of 
dealing with difficulties. He captivated and inspired 
his pupils by his genial, one might almost say 
student-like, manners, by his sparkling wit, and 
scintillating sallies, not always within the bounds of 
propriety. His manner towards his pupils was 
altogether different from that of rabbis of the ordi- 
nary type. He did not slink along gloomily, like a 
penitent, and with bowed head, and he imposed no 
such restraints on them, but allowed them great 
freedom. Social life and lively, interesting conver- 
sation were necessities to him. For these reasons 
the number of Eibeschiitz's disciples yearly in- 
creased, and counted by thousands. At thirty he 
was regarded not alone in Prague, but far and wide 
as an authority. 

It has been stated that the council of rabbis of 
Frankfort-on-the-Main had clear proofs of Eibe- 
schiitz's connection with Lobele Prosnitz and the 
Podolian Sabbatians. Only his extensive influence 
and the great number of his disciples protected him 
from being included in the sentence of excommun- 
ication pronounced against the others. He had the 
hardihood to meet the suspicions against himself 
by excommunicating the Sabbatians (1725). Moses 
Chages, the man without " respect of persons," the 


kk watchman of Zion " of that age, predicted that for- 
bearance would prove hurtful. In fact, Eibeschutz 
was at that time deeply committed to the Sabbatian 
heresies, confessed the fact to Heir Eisenstadt, the 
teacher of his youth, who knew his erring ways, and, 
apparently ashamed and repentant, promised 
amendment. Thanks to this clemency Eibeschiitz 
maintained his reputation, increased by his erudition, 
his ever-growing body of disciples, and his activity. 
The suspicion of heresy was by degrees forgotten, 
and the community of Prague, in recognition of his 
merits, appointed him preacher (1728). 

In another matter Eibeschiitz left the beaten path, 
and placed himself in a somewhat ambiguous light. 
Either from vanity or calculation, he entered into 
intimate relations with the Jesuits in Prague. He 
carried on discussions with them, displaying a cer- 
tain sort of liberality, as though he did not share the 
prejudices of the Jews, He associated, for instance, 
with that spiritual tyrant, Hasselbauer, the Jesuit 
bishop of Prague, who frequently made domiciliary 
visits among Jews, to search for and confiscate 
Hebrew books that had escaped the vigilance of 
the censor. Through this intimacy Eibeschutz 
obtained from the bishop the privilege to print the 
Talmud, so often proscribed by the Church of Rome. 
Did he act thus from self-interest, with the view of 
compelling the Bohemian Jews to use only copies 
of the Talmud printed by him, and in this way 
create a remunerative business, the profits to be 
shared with the Jesuits ? This was most positively 
asserted in many Jewish circles. Eibeschutz obtained 
permission to print from the episcopal board of 
censors, on condition that every expression, every 
word in the Talmud which, in howsoever small a 
degree, appeared to be antagonistic to Christianity 
be expunged. He was willing to perpetrate this pro- 
cess of mutilation (i 728-1739). Such obsequious pli- 
ability to the Jesuits excited the displeasure of many 


Jews. The community of Frankfort-on-the-Main 
spent a considerable sum Moses Chages and per- 
haps David Oppenheim being at the bottom of the 
movement in their efforts to obtain from the em- 
peror a prohibition against the publication of the 
Prague edition. ^ Eibeschiitz, on the other hand, 
used his connection with Christian circles to avert 
perils impending over the Bohemian Jews. 

Eibeschlitz's early heretical leanings were not 
absolutely forgotten. When the post of rabbi at 
Metz became vacant, he applied for it. When the 
council were occupied with the election, the gray- 
haired widow of the late rabbi appeared at the 
meeting, and warned them not to insult the memory 
of her dead husband and the pious rabbis who had 
preceded him, by appointing a heretic, perhaps 
worse (QL Mumar), their successor. This solemn 
admonition from the venerable matron who was re- 
lated to the wife of Eibeschiitz so impressed the 
council that his election fell through. Jacob Joshua 
Falk was appointed at Metz. He remained there 
only a few years, and, on his removal to Frankfort- 
on-the-Main, Eibeschiitz was chosen in his place. 
Before he entered on his duties, the Austrian War 
of Succession broke out, a struggle between youthful, 
aspiring Prussia, under Frederick the Great, and 
decrepit Austria, under Maria Theresa. A French 
army, in conjunction with Prussia and the anti- 
emperor Charles VII, occupied Prague. The sys- 
tematically brutalized population of Bohemia and 
Moravia conceived the false notion that the Jews 
were treacherously taking part with the enemy. It 
was said that Frederick the Great, the Protestant 
heretic, was an especial patron of the Jews. In 
Moravia, whither the Prussians had not yet pene- 
trated, occurred passionate outbursts of fury against 
the Jews. An Austrian field-marshal in Moravia, 
under the delusion of the Jews' treachery, issued a 
decree that the communities, within six days, should 


"pay down in cash 50,000 Rhenish gulden at Briinn, 
failing which, they would all be delivered over to 
pillage and the sword." Through the devoted ex- 
ertions of Baron de Aguilar and the wealthy rabbi, 
Issachar Berush Eskeles two members of the 
Vienna community this decree was revoked by the 
empress, Maria Theresa (March 21). These men 
had another opportunity to avert a crushing disaster 
from their brethren. 

Jonathan Eibeschlitz, having been appointed rabbi 
of Metz, either from self-conceit or in order to 
secure for himself the post of rabbi in French 
Lorraine, imprudently fraternized with the French 
soldiery who occupied the town. He obtained from 
the French commandant a safe-conduct enabling 
him to travel unmolested to France, and thereby 
aroused in the Bohemian population the suspicion 
that he had a treasonable understanding with the 
enemy. After the departure of the French (end of 
1742), the Austrian authorities held an inquiry into 
his conduct ; and all his property, which had not 
been seized by the Croats, was sequestered. Even- 
tually all the Moravian and Bohemian Jews 
were suspected of treason. The most Catholic 
empress, who was at once good-natured and hard- 
hearted, published a decree, December 18, 1744, 
for Bohemia, January 2, 1745, for Moravia, that all 
Jews in these royal provinces should, " for several 
important reasons/ 1 within a brief period be ban- 
ished ; and that Jews found in these crown lands 
after the expiration of this period should be 
" removed by force of arms." Terrible severity was 
shown in enforcing this decree. The Jews of Prague, 
more than 20,630 souls, were obliged in the depth 
of winter hurriedly to leave the town and suffer in 
the villages ; and the royal cities were forbidden to 
harbor them even temporarily. The position of 
the Bohemian and Moravian Jews was pitiable. 
Whither should they turn ? In the eighteenth cen- 


tury Jews were not in request or made welcome on 
account of their wealth as they had been before. 
As though Eibeschlitz felt himself in a measure to 
blame for their misfortunes, he took trouble to obtain 
relief for them. He preached on their behalf in 
Metz, addressed letters to the communities in the 
south of France, Bayonne and Bordeaux, asking for 
aid, and wrote to the Roman community begging 
them to intercede with the pope on behalf of their 
unhappy brethren. It was all of but little avail. 
More efficacious appears to have been the interces- 
sion of De Aguilar, Berush Eskeles, and other Jews 
connected with the court of Vienna. The clergy, 
too, spoke on their behalf, and the ambassadors of 
Holland and England interceded warmly and ur- 
gently for them. The empress revoked her severe 
decree, and permitted the Jews in both the royal 
provinces to remain for an indefinite time (May 15, 
1 745). In the case of the Prague community alone, 
which was chiefly under suspicion, the strictness of 
the decree was not relaxed. Not till some years 
later, in consequence of a declaration by the states 
of the empire " that their departure would entail a 
loss of many millions" was the residence of all 
Jews prolonged to ten years, but under degrading 
conditions. They were to be diminished rather than 
be permitted to increase, their exact number being 
fixed. Only the eldest son was permitted to found 
a family. Some 20,000 " Familianten," as they were 
called, were allowed in Bohemia and 5,100 in Mora- 
via, who were obliged to pay annually to the imperial 
treasury a sum of about 200,000 gulden. These 
restrictions were maintained almost up to the 
Revolution of 1848. Jonathan Eibeschutz rightly 
or wrongly was declared a traitor to his country, 
and forbidden ever to set foot on Austrian soil 

If, during the first years passed in Metz, he was 
so popular that the community would not allow him 
to accept the post of rabbi at Fiirth, offered to him, 


he must have made himself disagreeable later on, as 
during his difficulties, he could not find supporters 
there) nor any witnesses to his innocence. If he 
committed only a small portion of the mean actions 
with which he was reproached, his life must have 
presented a striking contrast to the sermons which 
he composed. Eibeschutz did not feel at home in 
Metz ; he missed the bustling, argumentative band 
of young admirers, and the wide platform on which 
to display his Talmudical erudition. In France 
there were fewer students of the Talmud. It was 
therefore pardonable that he strenuously exerted 
himself to obtain the post of rabbi of the " three 
communities " (Hamburg, Altona, and Wandsbeck). 
Thanks to the efforts of his connections^ and 
admirers, and his fame as the most distinguished 
of Talmudists and miracle workers, the choice fell 
on him. As the Jews of the three towns had their 
own civil jurisdiction, based on Rabbinical law, they 
required an acute rabbi, a lawyer, and they could 
not, from this point of view, have made a better 

But an evil spirit seems to have entered Altona 
with his instalment, which threw into disorder not 
only the three communities, but also the whole of 
German and Polish Judaism. Eibeschutz, though 
not free from blame, must not alone be made 
answerable. The tendency of the age was culpable, 
and Jacob Emden, an unattached rabbi, was more 
especially the prime mover in the strife. He desired 
to unmask hypocrisy, and in doing so laid bare the 
nakedness of his Jewish contemporaries. 

Jacob Emden Ashkenazi (abbreviated to Jabez ; 
born 1698, died 1776) resembled his father Chacham 
Zevi, as a branch its parent stem ; or rather he made 
the father whom he admired extravagantly his model 
in everything. The perverted spirit of the age pre- 
vented his following his natural bent and inspirations. 
A true son of the Talmud, he seriously believed that 


a Jew ought to occupy himself with other branches 
of knowledge only during tk the hour of twilight," 
and considered it unlawful to read newspapers on 
the Sabbath. He, too, was well versed in the 
Talmud, and set a high value on the Kabbala and 
the Zohar, of the dangerous extravagances of which 
he at first knew nothing. Philosophy, although he 
possessed no knowledge of it, was an abomination 
to him. In his perverseness he maintained it to be 
impossible that the philosophical work, " The Guide," 
could have been composed by the orthodox rabbi, 
Maimuni. In character he was just, truth-loving, 
and staunch, herein forming a sharp contrast to 
Jonathan Eibeschiitz. Whatever he considered as 
truth or false, he did not hesitate forthwith to defend 
or condemn with incisive acuteness ; it was contrary 
to his nature to conceal, dissimulate, hide his opinions, 
or play the hypocrite. He differed from Eibeschutz 
in another respect. The latter was agreeable, pliant, 
careless, cheerful, and sociable ; Emden, on the 
contrary, was unsociable, unbending, earnest, melan- 
choly, and a lover of solitude. Well-to-do, and 
maintaining himself by his business, Emden was 
always disinclined to undertake the office of a rabbi. 
He was too well aware of his own craving for inde- 
pendence, his awkwardness, and impetuosity. Only 
once was he induced to accept the office of rabbi, in 
Emden (from which he derived his surname) ; but 
he relinquished it after a few years on account of 
his dislike to the work and from ill-health, and 
settled in Altona. He obtained from the king of 
Denmark the privilege of establishing a printing- 
press ; built a house with a private synagogue, and, 
with his family and a few friends, formed a com- 
munity within the community. He indeed visited 
the exchange, but he lived enwrapped in a dream- 
world of his own. 

Emden was on the list of candidates for the ap- 
pointment of rabbi to the "three communities." 


His few friends worked for him, and urged him to 
exert himself to try and obtain the post, He, how- 
ever, resisted all their solicitations, and declared 
decidedly, that he would hot accept the election 
even if the choice fell on him, but he was none the 
less aggrieved that he obtained only a few votes, 
and entertained an unfriendly feeling towards Eibe- 
schlitz, because he was preferred. There was 
another peculiarity in Emden's character: his anti- 
pathy to heretics. His father Chacham Zevi had 
undauntedly pursued Nehemiah Chayon and the 
other Sabbatians, and had brought himself into 1 
painful positions by so doing. Emden desired 
nothing more ardently than to follow his father, and 
w'ould not have shunned martyrdom in the cause. 
Since the return of Moses Chages to Palestine, he 
considered himself the watchman on behalf of ortho- 
doxy among his fellow-believers. He was a Jewish 
grand inquisitor, and was in readiness to hurl the 
thunders of excommunication whenever heresy, par- 
ticularly the Sabbatian, should show itself. The 
opportunity of exercising his unpaid office of inquis- 
itor, of proving his zeal for orthodoxy, and even of 
suffering in its behalf, was granted him by Jonathan 

At the time when Eibeschiitz entered on his 
duties as rabbi a painful agitation was prevalent 
among the Jews of the " three communities." Within 
the year several young women had died in child- 
birth. Every wife in expectation of becoming a 
mother awaited the approaching hour with increas- 
ing anxiety. The coming of the new rabbi, who 
should drive away the destroying angel by whom 
young women had been selected as victims, was 
awaited with eager longing. At that time a rabbi 
was regarded as a protector against every species 
of evil ( Megin), a sort of magician, and the wives of 
Hamburg and Altona expected still greater things 
from Jonathan Eibeschiitz, who had been heralded by 


t .. " 

his admirers as the most gifted of rabbis and a worker 
of miracles. How would he respond to these exag- 

gsrated expectations ? Even if he had been honest, 
ibeschlitz would have been forced to resort to 
some mystification to assert his authority in his new 
office. Therefore, immediately after his arrival, he 
prepared talismans writings for exorcising spirits 
(Cameos, Kameoth) for the terrified women, and 
indulged in other forms of magic to impose upon 
the credulous. He had distributed similar amulets 
in Metz, Frankfort-on-the-Main, and other places. 
From Frankfort a rumor had reached Altona that 
the talismans of Eibeschutz were of an altogether 
different nature to what they usually were, and that 
they were heretical in character. Out of curiosity- 
one of the amulets distributed by the chief rabbi 
Jonathan Eibeschutz, was opened in Altona, and 
was found to contain the following invocation : 

"O God of Israel, Thou who dwellest in the adornment of Thy 
might [a Kabbalistic allusion] , send through the merit of Thy servant 
Sabbata'i Zevi healing for this woman, whereby Thy name and the 
name of Thy Messiah, Sabbatai' Zevi, may be sanctified in the 

It is hard to tell which is more surprising 
Eibeschiitz's stupid belief in and attachment to the 
impostor of Smyrna, who had apostatized from 
Judaism, or his imprudence in thus exposing himself. 
He had indeed altered the words a little, and put 
certain letters to represent others ; but he must have 
known that the key to his riddle was easy to find. 
These attempts at deception naturally did not 
remain a secret. The amulets came into the hands 
of Emden, who no longer entertained a doubt that 
Eibeschutz still adhered to the Sabbatian heresy. 
Though he rejoiced greatly at having found an 
opportunity to exercise his office of inquisitor, he in 
a measure recoiled from the consequences of doing 
so. Was it wise to begin a contest with a man who 
had an extensive reputation as the most learned 


Talmudist of his day, as an orthodox rabbi, whose 
numerous disciples over 20,000 it was said were 
rabbis, officials of communities, and holders of 
influential posts, who clung to him with admiration, 
and were ready to form a phalanx round him and 
exert all their energies in his defense? On the 
other hand, the matter could not be suppressed, 
it having been discussed in the Jews' quarter and 
on exchange. The elders felt obliged to interrogate 
Eibeschtitz on the matter, and he replied by a 
pitiful evasion. The council, whether believing 
Eibeschutz or not, was bound to lend him a helping 
hand in burying the matter. What a disgrace for 
the highly respected " three communities," which a 
quarter of a century earlier had condemned and 
branded the Sabbatians as heretics, that they them- 
selves should have chosen a Sabbatian as their 
chief rabbi ! Jacob Emden, from whose zeal the 
worst was to be dreaded, was partially beguiled by 
flatteries, partially intimidated by threats, to refrain 
from publishing the affair. But these threats against 
him necessarily led to publicity. Emden solemnly 
declared in his synagogue that he held the writer of 
the amulets to be a Sabbatian heretic who deserved 
to be excommunicated, that he did not charge the 
chief rabbi with their composition, but that the latter 
was in duty bound to clear himself from suspicion. 
This declaration caused a deep sensation in the 
" three communities," and aroused vehement ani- 
mosity. The council, and the greater part of the 
community, regarded it as a gross piece of presump- 
tion and as an encroachment upon their jurisdiction. 
The friends of Eibeschutz, especially his disciples, 
fanned the flame. Religious hero-worship was so 
prevalent that some did not hesitate to declare that 
if their rabbi believed in Sabbata'i Zevi, they would 
share his belief. Without putting Emden on trial 
the council arbitrarily decreed that no .one, under 
pain of excommunication, should attend his syna- 


gogue, which was to be closed, and that he should 
not publish anything at his printing establishment. 
And now began a struggle which at first produced 
abundant evil, but which in the end had a purifying 
effect. Jonathan Eibeschutz published the affair 
far and wide among his numerous friends and 
disciples _in Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland, and 
painted himself as an innocent man unjustly accused, 
and Jacob Emden as an audacious fellow who had 
the presumption to brand him as a heretic. He was 
hurried along from one untruth to another, from 
violence to violence; but he nevertheless had many 
partisans to support him. Jacob Emden on the con- 
trary stood well-nigh alone, for the few who adhered 
to him had not the courage to come forward openly. 
He however informed his friends, Eibeschutz's 
enemies, on the same day of what had occurred. 
The foolish affair of the amulets thus acquired a 
notoriety which it was impossible to check. Every 
Jew capable of forming an opinion on the subject 
took one side or the other; the majority adhered 
to Eibeschutz. Many indeed could not conceive it 
possible that so distinguished a Talmudist could be 
a Sabbatian, and the accusation against him was 
accounted base slander on the part of the irascible 
and malignant Emden. Great ignorance prevailed 
with regard to the character and history of the Sab- 
batians (or Shabs, as they were termed), for a 
quarter of a century had passed since they had 
been everywhere excommunicated. Public opinion 
was therefore at first in Eibeschutz's favor. 

Eibeschutz thoroughly understood how to win 
over opponents to his side, and to soothe them with 
illusions. He convened a meeting in the synagogue, 
and took a solemn oath that he did not adhere to a 
single article of the Sabbatian creed ; if he did, 
might fire and brimstone descend on him from 
heaven ! He went on to anathematize this sect 
with all kinds of maledictions, and excommunicated 


his adversaries who had slandered him, ^and orig- 
inated these elements of strife. This solemn 
declaration made a deep impression. Who could 
doubt the innocence of a rabbi of such high Banding 
when he called God to witness respecting it? _ The 
council of the -three communities" considered itself 
fully justified in ordering Emden, as a common 
slanderer, to leave Altona. As he refused, and re- 
ferred to the charter granted him by the king, he 
was cut off from all intercourse with others, pursued 
by intrigues, and relentlessly persecuted. This 
treatment only aroused Emden to more strenuous 
efforts. Letters had meantime been sent from 
Metz with other amulets (1751), which Eibeschutz 
had distributed there, and the genuineness of which 
he had himself admitted, clearly demonstrating that 
he revered Sabbatai Zevi as the Messiah and saviour. 
The Metz amulets were in the main of the same 
character : 

11 In the name of the God of Israel .... of the God of his 
anointed Sabbatai Zevi, throug-h whose wounds healing- is come to us, 
who with the breath of His mouth slays the Evil One, I adjure all 
spirits and demons not to injure the bearer of this amulet." 

A judicial examination of these amulets had been 
made by the council of rabbis and elders ; and all 
who had any in their possession were commanded 
to deliver them up under pain of excommunication. 
A royal procurator confirmed their authenticity ; 
that is to say, they were proved by the evidence of 
witnesses under oath to be the work of Eibeschutz ; 
who did not find one person of note in Metz to 
maintain his honor. It was some small satisfaction 
to Jacob Emden to know that he did not stand 
alone in his conflict ; but concurrence in his views 
did not profit him much. The members of the 
"three communities," with the exception of a small 
minority, adhered to Eibeschutz, and made his cause 
their own. It was forbidden to speak a slanderous 
word against the chief rabbi. Elsewhere his enemies 


made plans he received notice from all quarters as 
to what was designed against him but there was 
no definite scheme. His disciples, on the other 
hand, were extraordinarily zealous in his behalf. 
One of these, Chayim of Lublin, had the courage, 
in glorification of Eibeschtitz and in defamation of 
his opponents, to excommunicate three of the latter 
in his synagogue, Jacob Emden, Nehemiah Reischer, 
and an elder in Metz, Moses Mayo, because they 
had dared slander " that most perfect man, Jonathan, 
in whom God glorified Himself." This decree of 
excommunication was distributed throughout Poland 
for observance and imitation. The remaining Polish 
rabbis agreed with it, either being supporters of 
Eibeschiitz, or having been bribed, or being indiffer- 
ent in the matter. By way of Konigsberg and 
Breslau, for example, large sums were sent to Poland 
to commend the case of Eibeschiitz to the rabbis of 
that country. Matters did not stop at excommuni- 
cations and anathemas ; in Altona (lyar 2 5= May) 
they culminated in a riot. A hand-to-hand fight 
took place, and the police had to be called in. In 
consequence, Jacob Emden, believing his life to be 
endangered through the fury of Eibeschiitz's parti- 
sans, fled to Amsterdam on the next day, and was 
kindly received there. Emden's wife was ordered 
by the council not to part with any of his property, 
as an action for damages would be brought against 

Eibeschutz was acute enough to perceive that the 
residence of Jacob Ernden in Amsterdam might 
prove dangerous, as he would have full scope, by 
means of his trenchant pen, to expose the rabbi's 
past history through the press. To counteract this, 
Eibeschutz issued to his followers in- Germany, 
Poland, and Italy, an encyclical (Letter of Zeal, Sivan 
3, 1 751), in which, under the guise of an exhortation 
to bear testimony to his orthodoxy, he besought 
them to make his cause their own. He urged them 


to prosecute his adversary with all their energy and 
by every possible means : it would be set to their 
account' as a special merit by the Almighty. It 
greatly resembled the command of a popular general 
to thousands of his soldiers to attack, and pitilessly 
ill-treat defenseless men. To complete the delusion, 
he induced two men, devotedly attached to mysti- 
cism, but not to truth Elijah Olianow and Samuel 
Essingeri to declare that his amulets contained 
nothing dangerous or heretical, but a great deal of 
deep orthodox mysticism intelligible only to the few. 
Eibeschiitz had not yet just grounds for rejoicing. 
The excess of insolence of the newly-fledged rabbi 
of Lublin in excommunicating gray-haired rabbis 
aroused the leading men in the communities. A 
cry of horror resounded from Lorraine to Podolia 
at this arrogance, justly suspected to be due to the 
instigation of Eibeschiitz. Three rabbis at length 
combined, Joshua Falk, Leb Heschels, and Heil- 
mann, and others joined them. Eibeschiitz was 
challenged to exculpate himself before a meeting 
of rabbis regarding the amulets ascribed to him, 
which undeniably were heretical. As was to be 
anticipated, Eibeschiitz declined to justify himself in 
any way, and the confederates took council as to 
what further steps to take against him. The 
scandal continued to increase. The newspapers 
reported the quarrel amongst the Jews regarding 
the rabbi of Altona. Christians naturally could not 
comprehend the nature of the dispute. It was said 
that a vehement controversy had arisen amongst 
the Jews as to whether the Messiah had or had not 
already appeared. The Jews were derided, because 
they preferred to believe in the impostor Sabbatai 
Zevi, rather than in Jesus. This reacted on the 
Jews, and the two parties imputed to each other 
the offense of this scandal, this " profanation of 
God's name." An energetic man, Baruch Yavan, of 
Poland, transferred the schism to that country. He 


was_a disciple of Falk, agent to the notorious Saxon 
minister Briihl, and enjoyed considerable reputation 
in Poland. Through his intrigues, a Polish magnate 
deprived Chayirn Lublin of his office as rabbi, and 
ordered him and his father to be thrown into prison 
(Elul=September, 1751). In Poland the contro- 
versy assumed an ugly character bribery, informa- 
tion through spies, acts of violence, and treachery 
being among its leading features. Seceders from 
each party betrayed the secrets of one to the other. 
Every fair and every synod were battlefields, where 
the partisans of Eibeschiitz and Falk contended. 
The proceedings at the synods were more disorderly 
than those in the Polish Reichstag. When the de- 
fenders of either side proved more numerous or 
more energetic, the weaker party was excommun- 
icated. The supporters of Eibeschutz were in the 
main more active. Count Brtihl made them as many 
empty promises of protection, as he bestowed on 
their opponents through Baruch Yavan. 

In Germany, naturally, matters were conducted 
with more moderation. The triumvirate of rabbis 
published a decision to the effect that the writer 
of the Sabbatian amulets should be cut off from 
communion with Israel. Every devout Jew lay 
under obligation to persecute him to the utmost 
of his power. No one might study the Talmud 
under his guidance. All who supported his cause 
were to be excommunicated. No mention was 
made of Eibeschutz's name. Many German rabbis 
concurred in this moderate decision, as also the 
Venetian rabbis who had excommunicated Luzzatto. 
The resolution was delivered to Eibeschutz and the 
council of the " three communities" (February, 
1752), and notice was given to Eibeschutz that 
within two months he must clear himself 'before a rab- 
binical court of arbitration of the suspicion that he 
was the author of heretical amulets, failing which his 
name would be publicly stigmatized. This sentence 


of excommunication was to be printed by the 
Venetian council of rabbis, and published throughout 
the East and Africa. But Eibeschutz understood 
how to meet this blow craftily. The Italian rabbis 
were, for the most part, reluctant to burn their 
fingers in this violent quarrel, and declined to par- 
ticipate in any way. The council of rabbis at Leg- 
horn, especially Malachi Cohen, the last of the Ital- 
ian rabbinicial authorities, inclined towards the side 
of Eibeschutz. The Portuguese in Amsterdam and 
London designedly kept themselves aloof from this 
domestic squabble among the Germans and Poles. 
One broker of Amsterdam, David Pinto, alone 
espoused Eibeschutz's cause, and threatened Emden 
with his anger if he continued his hostility. The 
council of rabbis in Constantinople, dazzled by 
Eibeschutz's illustrious name, or in some way de- 
ceived, declared decidedly for him, but would not 
pronounce a direct sentence of excommunication 
against his antagonists. What they neglected was 
done by a so-called envoy from Jerusalem, Abraham 
Israel, a presumptuous mendicant, who as a repre- 
sentative of the Holy Land and the Jewish nation, 
imprecated and anathematized all who should utter 
a slanderous word against Eibeschutz. Thus almost 
the whole of Israel was excommunicated ; on the 
one side those who showed enmity towards the 
illustrious chief rabbi of the " three communities," 
and on the other those who supported that heretic. 
Thus the effects of excommunication were nullified, 
or rather it became ridiculous, and with it a phase 
of rabbinical Judaism disappeared. 

A new turn was given this disagreeable con- 
troversy when it was transferred from its home to 
the law courts of the Christians. The fanaticism 
of Eibeschutz's followers was more to blame than 
the conduct of their opponents. One of the elders 
of Altona, who had so far remained true to the 
cause of the persecutors, in a letter to his brother 


showed himself somewhat doubtful of its justice. 
This letter was opened by the followers of Eibe- 
schutz, and the writer was set down as a traitor 
expelled from the council, ill-treated, and threatened 
with banishment from Altona. There remained no 
alternative for him but to address himself to the 
government of Holstein, to the king of Denmark, 
Frederick V, and unsparingly expose all the illegali- 
ties, meannesses, and violence of which Eibeschutz 
and his party had been guilty. The injustice of the 
council towards Jacob Emden and his wife was 
discussed in connection with the affair. An authenti- 
cated copy of the suspected amulets was translated 
into German. The trial was conducted with extreme 
bitterness; both parties spared no expense. The 
plaintiff and his faction in their anger did not confine 
themselves to necessary statements, b'ut treacher- 
ously stigmatized as a crime much that was of an 
innocent nature. King Frederick, who loved justice, 
and his minister Bernstorff, gave judgment against 
the followers of Eibeschutz (June 3, 1752). The 
council of Altona was severely censured for its illegal 
and harsh treatment of Jacob Emden, and punished 
with a fine of 100 thalers. Emden was not only per- 
mitted to return to Altona, but the use of his syna- 
gogue and his printing establishment was restored. 
Eibeschutz was deprived of authority as rabbi of the 
Hamburg community, and ordered to clear himself 
with regard to the incriminating amulets, and to 
answer fifteen questionsi propounded to him. Events 
thus took an unfortunate turn for him. Even the 
well-intentioned letter of a partisan sent from Poland 
served to show how desperate his case was. Ezekiel 
Landau (born 1720, died 1793) as a young man had 
aroused hopes that he would become a second 
Jonathan Eibeschutz in rabbinical learning and 
sagacity. His opinion as rabbi of Jampol (Podolia) 
carried great weight. Landau wrote with youthful 
simplicity and straightforwardness to Eibeschutz 


that the amulets which he had seen were without 
doubt Sabbatian and heretical. He, therefore, could 
not believe that the honored and devout rabbi of 
Altona had written them. For that reason he was 
as much in favor of condemning the amulets, as of 
upholding Jonathan Eibeschutz and declaring war 
against his adversaries. He entreated Eibeschutz 
to condemn the amulets as heretical, and when 
occasion offered clear himself from the accusation 
that he was the author of the slanderous writings, 
full of unworthy expressions about God, and to 
condemn them leaf by leaf. This was a severe 
blow from the hand of a friend. As Eibeschutz 
had acknowledged the amulets to be genuine, and 
had only sophistically explained away their heresy, 
he was now in evil case. A follower of Emden's 
in addition published the correspondence and decis- 
ions of Eibeschutz's enemies, which stigmatized his 
conduct, together with an account of the amulets 
and their true interpretation ("The Language of 
Truth, 1 ' printed August, 1752). Emden himself 
published the history of the false Messiah, Sabbata'i 
Zevi, and the visionaries and knaves who had suc- 
ceeded him, down to Chayon and Luzzatto, vividly 
describing the errors and disorderly excesses of 
the Sabbatians for his own generation, which was 
careless with regard to historical events, and had 
but scanty, confused knowledge on the subject. 
Thus it was made clear to many that the Sabbatian 
heresy aimed at nothing less than the dethronement 
of the God of Israel in favor of a phantom, and 
the dissolution of Judaism by means of Kabbal- 
istic chimeras. But the worst that befell Eibeschutz 
was that Emden himself returned unmolested to 
Altona, and had the prospect of being indemnified 
for his losses. 

The danger in which Eibeschutz found himself of 
being unmasked as a heretic in the courts of law, 
and before the eyes of the world, determined him to 


a step which a rabbi of the old stamp of honest 
piety, even under peril of death, would not have 
taken. He associated himself with an apostate 
baptized Jew, formerly his pupil, in order to obtain 
assistance from him in his difficulties. Moses Ger- 
son Cohen, of Mitau, who, on his mother's side, 
was descended from Chayim Vital Calabrese, had 
studied the Talmud under Eibeschutz in Prague for 
seven years, then traveled in the East, and, after 
his return to Europe, had been baptized in Wolfen- 
biittel under the name Charles Anton. He was ap- 
pointed by his patron, the duke of Brunswick, 
Reader in Hebrew in Helrnstadt. It was after- 
wards proved that this convert had become a Chris- 
tian solely from self-interest. 

^ To him the chief rabbi of the " three communi- 
ties " secretly repaired in^ order to induce him to 
compose a vindication, or father a panegyric, of his 
conduct. It is evident on the face of it, even at the 
present day, that the work was written ''to order,' 1 
and it transpired that Eibeschutz had dictated it to 
Charles Anton. He is extolled as the most saga- 
cious and upright Jew of his time, as a man versed 
in philosophy, history, and mathematics, and as a 
persecuted victim. Jacob Emden, on the other 
hand, is represented as an incompetent, envious fel- 
low. Anton dedicated this work to the king of 
Denmark, and commended to him the case of the 
alleged innocent and persecuted man. This work, 
with another cunningly chosen expedient, had favor- 
able results for Eibeschutz. He had screened him- 
self not only behind a baptized Jew, but behind a 
princess. King Frederick V had married, as his 
second wife, a princess of Brunswick, Maria Juliana, 
and a Jewish agent a partisan of Eibeschutz did 
business at the court of Brunswick. The latter 
made the most of his direct and indirect influence 
with the young Danish princess, and said a good 
word to her on behalf of the chief rabbi under accu- 


poisonous rage at this very moment. The seed 
which Chayim Malach had scattered in Poland was 
by no means checked in growth by the anathemas 
of the rabbis. They had only forced the Sabbatians 
to disguise themselves better, and to counterfeit 
death ; but they flourished secretly, and their follow- 
ing increased Some towns in Podolia and Pakotia 
were full of Talmudists who, in Sabbatian fashion, 
scoffed at the Talmud, rejected the law of Judaism, 
and, under the mask of ascetic discipline, lived im- 
pure lives. The disorders to which the dispute 
regarding Eibeschlitz had given rise in Poland en- 
couraged the Polish Sabbatians to venture from 
their hiding-places and raise their masks a little. 
The time seemed favorable for an attempt to cast 
aside odious religious rites, and openly to come for- 
ward as anti-Talmudists. They needed a spirited 
leader to gather the scattered band, give it cohesion, 
and mark out a line of action. This leader now 
presented himself, and with his appearance began a 
new movement which threw the whole Jewish world 
of Poland into intense agitation and despair. This 
leader was the notorious Jacob Frank. 

Jankiev Lejbovicz (that is, Jacob son of Leb) of 
Galicia, was one of the worst, most subtle, and most 
deceitful rascals of the eighteenth century. He 
could cheat the most sagacious, and veil his frauds 
so cleverly that after his death many still believed 
him an admirable man, who bore through life, and 
carried to the grave, most weighty secrets. He 
understood the art of deception even in his youth, 
and* boasted how he had duped his own father. 
As a young man he traveled in Turkey in the service 
of a Jewish gentleman, and in Salonica entered into 
relations with the Sabbatians or Jewish Moslems 
there. If he did not learn from them how to work 
deceptive and mystifying miracles, he at all events 
learnt indifference towards all forms of religion. 
He became a Mahometan, as afterwards a Cath- 



olic, for so long as it served his purpose, and 
changed his religion as one changes one's clothes. 
From his long sojourn in Turkey he acquired the 
name of Frank, or Frenk. Ignorant of Talmudical 
literature, as he himself confessed, he was acquainted 
with the Zoharist Kabbala, explained it to suit his 
purpose, and took peculiar pleasure in the doctrine 
of metempsychosis, by virtue of which the successive 
Messiahs were not visionaries or impostors, but the 
embodiment of one and the same Messianic soul. 
King David, Elijah, Jesus, Mahomet, Sabbata'i Zevi, 
and his imitators, down to Berachya, were one and 
the same personality, which had assumed different 
bodily forms. Why should not he himself be another 
incarnation of the Messiah ? Although Jacob Frank, 
or Lejbovicz, loved money dearly, he accounted it 
only a lever by which to raise himself; he wished to 
play a brilliant part and surround himself with a 
mysterious halo. Circumstances were exceptionally 
favorable to him. He married in Nicopolis 
(Turkey) a very beautiful wife, through whom he 
attracted followers. He collected by degrees a 
small number of Turkish and Wallachian Jews, who 
shared his loose principles, and held him to be a 
superior being the latest embodiment of the Mes- 
siah. He could not, however, carry on his mischiev- 
ous schemes in Turkey, where he was persecuted. 
Frank appears to have obtained intelligence of 
the schism in Poland caused by the Eibeschiitz con- 
troversy, and thought that he might utilize the 
propitious moment to gather round him the Sab- 
batians of Podolia, and play a part among them.-, and 
by means of them. He came suddenly amongst them, 
visiting many towns of Podolia and the Lemberg dis- 
trict, where secret Sabbatians resided, with whom he 
may have been in communication previously. They 
fell, so to speak, into his arms. Frank needed follow- 
ers, and they were seeking a leader. Now they found 
one who had come to them with a full purse, of the 


contents of which he was not sparing. In a trice 
he won the Sabbatians of Podolia. Frank disclosed 
himself to them as the successor of Sabbatai, or, 
what was the same thing, as the new-born soul of 
the Sabbatian chief Berachya. What this manifes- 
tation signified was known to the initiated. They 
understood by it the blasphemous and at the^ same 
time absurd theory of a kind of Trinity, consisting of 
the Holy and Most Ancient One, the Holy King, 
and a female person in the Godhead. Frank, like 
his predecessors, attributed the chief importance to 
the Holy King, at once the Messiah and God incar- 
nate, and possessed of all power on earth and in 
heaven. Frank ordered his followers to address 
him as the Holy Lord. In virtue of his partici- 
pation in the Godhead, the Messiah was able to do 
all things, even miracles, and Frank did perform mira- 
cles, as his followers maintained. The adherents 
whom he brought in his train, and whom he gathered 
round him in Poland, believed so strongly in his 
divine nature that they addressed to him mystic 
prayers in the language of the Zohar, with the same 
formulas that the Donmah of Salonica were wont to 
address to Jacob Querido and Berachya. In short, 
Frank formed a sect from the Sabbatians of Podolia, 
called by his name, " Frankists." Their founder 
taught his disciples to acquire riches for themselves, 
even by fraudulent and dishonest means. Deceit 
was nothing more than skillful artifice. Their chief 
task was to undermine rabbinical Judaism, and to 
oppose and annihilate the Talmud. This task they 
undertook with a passion which perhaps owed its 
origin to the constraints imposed upon them through 
fear of persecution. The Frankists opposed the 
Zohar to the Talmud, and Simon bar Yochai', its 
alleged author, to the other authorities of the 
Talmud, as though in earlier times the former had 
combated the latter and accused them of being the 
falsifiers of Judaism. The true teaching of Moses 


was said to be contained only in the Zohar, which 
had declared the whole of rabbinical Judaism to be 
on a lower level a fact which blundering Kabbalists 
had so long overlooked. The Frankists, more clear- 
sighted, had discovered the half-concealed secret of 
the Zohar. They rightly called themselves anti- 
Talmudists as well as Zoharites. With a certain 
childish frowardness they did exactly those things 
which rabbinical Judaism strongly prohibited, and 
neglected those which the latter prescribed, not 
only in points of ritual, but also with regard to 
marriage and the laws of chastity. Among these 
anti-Talmudic Frankists were found rabbis and so- 
called preachers (Darshanim, Maggidim), Jehuda 
Leb Krysa, rabbi of Nadvorna, and Rabbi Nachman 
ben Samuel Levi of Busk. Of especial reputation 
among Polish Sabbatians was Elisha Schor of 
Rohatyn, an aged man, descended from distin- 
guished Polish rabbis. He, his sons, his daughter 
Chaya (who knew the Zohar by heart, and was con- 
sidered a prophetess), his grandson, and sons-in-law 
were from an early period thoroughgoing Sabba- 
tians, to whom it was a positive pleasure to deride 
rabbinical precepts. 

During the first months after his return to 
Poland, Frank held secret conferences with the 
anti-Talmudists of Podolia, as a public demon- 
stration was attended with danger. One day, 
he with about twenty of his followers was sur- 
prised in Laskorun in a conventicle. The Frank- 
ists declared that they had been singing psalms 
in the Zohar language, while their adversaries 
asserted that they had been performing an indecent 
dance around a half-naked woman, and kissing her. 
Many gathered about the inn to force their way in ; 
others ran to the police to give information that a 
Turk had stolen into Podolia to pervert the Jews 
to the Mahometan religion and make them emigrate 
to Turkey, and that those who had joined him were 


leading an Adamite, that is to say dissolute, life. The 
police immediately interposed, broke open ^the 
barricaded doors, and expelled the Frankists, 
Frank was dismissed next day as a foreigner, and 
repaired to the neighboring Turkish territory ; and 
the Podolian Frankists were kept in custody. ^ The 
incident made a sensation, and -was perhaps inten- 
tionally exaggerated. Like wild-fire the news con- 
cerning the Sabbatians spread. It can be imagined 
what this defiance of Rabbinical Judaism meant in 
those days, especially in Poland, where the most 
insignificant religious rites were sedulously observed. 
It was now discovered that, in the midst of the 
excessive piety which characterized the Poles, a 
number of persons, brought up in the knowledge of 
the Talmud, scoffed at the whole system of Rabbin- 
ical Judaism. The rabbis and elders forthwith 
began to employ the usual weapons of excommuni- 
cation and persecution against the offenders, and 
the secret heretics were hunted out. Won over 
by large sums, the Polish authorities energetically 
supported the persecutors. Those in distress showed 
signs of repentance, and made public confession of 
their misdeeds, which, be they accurate or exagger- 
ated, present a sad picture of the deterioration of 
the Polish Jews. Before the council of rabbis in 
Satanov, in open court, several men and women 
stated that they and their friends -had not only treated 
the rites of Judaism with contempt, but had aban- 
doned themselves to fornication, adultery, incest, 
and other iniquities, and had done so in accordance 
with Kabbalistic-mystic teachings. The penitents 
declared that Frank had taught his followers to 
scoff at chastity. 

In consequence of this evidence a solemn sentence 
of excommunication, during the reading of which 
tapers were extinguished, was pronounced in Brody 
against the Frankists: no one might intermarry 
with them, their sons and daughters were to be 


treated as bastards, and none who were even 
suspected could be admitted to the post of rabbi, to 
any religious office, or to the profession of teacher. 
Every one vas in duty bound to denounce and 
unmask^ the secret Sabbatians. This excom- 
munication was repeated in several communities, 
and finally ratified by a great synod in Konstan- 
tinov on the Jewish New Year (September, 1756). 
The document was printed, distributed, and 
ordered to be read aloud ever}- month in the syna- 
gogues for observance. This sentence of excom- 
munication contained one point of great importance. 
No one under thirty years of age was to be permitted 
to study the Kabbala. Necessity at length opened 
the eyes of the rabbis to the recognition of the 
impure spring, which since the time of Lurya had 
poisoned the sap of the tree of Judaism. More 
than four centuries had passed since philosophical 
inquiry had been forbidden, and the young Kabbala 
encouraged. In their blindness, the rabbis had 
imagined that they were strengthening Judaism in 
placing folly on the throne of wisdom. This course 
produced that book of lies, the Zohar, which impu- 
dently set itself above the Holy Writings and the 
Talmud. Finally, the delusions of the Kabbala 
declared a life and death war against rabbinical 
Judaism. Such were the fruits of blindness. The 
members of the synod of Konstantinov turned in 
their perplexity to Jacob Emden, who, since his 
controversy with Eibeschiitz, was accounted the 
representative of sound orthodoxy. He, too, enjoyed 
a triumph, though of an altogether different kind 
from the one his antagonist was at the same time cel- 
ebrating in the midst of his noisy admirers. The Polish 
Jews at last began to be aware that secular knowledge 
and cultivated eloquence are after all not altogether 
objectionable, since they can render assistance to 
Judaism. They were desirous that a cultured Por- 
tuguese should come to Poland, endowed with 


knowledge and readiness of speech, who would 
represent them before the Polish magistracy and 
clergy, in order to suppress the dangerous Frankist 

Jacob Emden, deeply affected by the despairing 
appeal of his Polish brethren, came to a conclusion 
of great importance for succeeding ages. Sabba- 
tians of all shades appealed to the Zohar as a sacred 
authority, as the Bible of a new revelation, excusing 
all their blasphemies and indecencies by quotations 
from it. What if the Zohar should prove not to be 
genuine, but only a supposititious work? And 
this was the conclusion to which Ernden came. 
The repulsive incidents in Poland first suggested 
the inquiry to him, and it became clear to him that 
at least a portion of the Zohar was the production 
of an impostor. 

To the question whether it would be lawful to 
persecute the Frankists, Jacob Emden answered 
emphatically in the affirmative. He held them, 
according to the accounts received from Poland, 
to be shameless transgressors of the most sacred 
laws of decency and chastity, turning vice into 
virtue by means of mystical jugglery. No per- 
suasion, however, was required from him ; when 
persecution became necessary in Poland the will to 
inflict it was never wanting. The Frankists were 
denounced to the magistracy and clergy as a new 
sect and handed over to the Catholic" Inquisition, 
and the bishop of Kamieniec, Nicolas Dembowski, 
in whose diocese they were apprehended, had no 
objection to erect a stake. Frank was cunning 
enough to avert from his followers the blow aimed 
at them and to direct it against their enemies. 
From Chocim, where after a brief imprisonment he 
.had settled in safety, he counseled them to emphasize 
two points in their defense : that they believed in a 
Trinity, and that they rejected the Talmud as a 
compilation full of error and blasphemy. His coun- 



sel meeting with opposition, he secretly assembled 
some of his followers in a small town in Poland, and 
reiterated his advice, with the addition that twenty 
or thirty of them must quickly be baptized to give 
more emphasis to their assertions that they acknowl- 
edged the Trinity and rejected the Talmud. To 
Frank change of religion was a small matter. The 
Talmud Jews of the district heard of Frank's secret 
conference with his confederates, collected a band, 
attacked them, and after using them roughly phced 
them in confinement. This proceeding' provoked 
the anti-Talmudists to revenge. They would not, 
indeed, be baptized, but they declared before the 
tribunal of Bishop Dembowski that they were 
almost Christians, that they believed in a Divine 
Trinity, that the rest of the Jews, who repudiated 
this doctrine, did not hold the true faith, and perse- 
cuted them on account of their superiority- To 
make their breach with Judaism unmistakable, or to 
revenge themselves in a very sanguinary way, they 
made false accusations, namely, that believers in the 
Talmud make use of the blood of Christians, and 
that the Talmud inculcates the murder of Christians 
as a sacred duty. There was no difficulty in trump- 
ing up evidence in favor of the accusation. It was 
only necessary that some Christian child should be 
missing. Something of the kind must have occurred 
in Jampol in Podolia (April, 1756), and immediately 
the most respected Jews of the town were placed 
in chains, and the other communities menaced. 
Bishop Dembowski and his chapter, rejoiced at 
their good luck, favored the Frankists in every way 
in return for their false evidence, freed them from 
prison, protected them from persecution, allowed 
them to settle in the diocese of Kamieniec, permitted 
them to live as they pleased, and were delighted to 
foster their hatred of the Talmud Jews. The bishop 
flattered himself that, through the Frankists, among 
whom were several rabbis, he would be able to con- 


vert many Polish Jews to Catholicism. The new 
sect passed into the state in which the persecuted 
becomes the persecutor. 

In order to drive their adversaries to desperation, 
the Frankists (1757) petitioned Bishop Dembowski 
to arrange a disputation between themselves and 
the Talmudists, and bound themselves to prove both 
the doctrine of the Trinity and the harmful nature 
of the Talmud, from the Scriptures and the Zohar. 
To this the bishop willingly consented. One of the 
Frankist rabbis perhaps old Elisha Schor, of 
Rohatyn composed a confession of faith, which, 
almost unequaled for audacity and untruthfulness, 
is so artful in its explanation of Sabbatian-Kabbal- 
istic doctrines as to have led the bishop to suppose 
that they were in consonance with the Catholic faith, 
and to drive their adversaries into a corner. The 
Frankist confession of faith contains nine articles. 
The religion revealed by God to man contains so 
many deep mysteries, that it must be thoroughly 
searched out and examined ; without higher inspira- 
tion, however, it cannot be understood. One of 
these mysteries is that the Godhead consists of 
three Persons, equal to one another, at once a 
Trinity and a Unity. Another mystery is that the 
Godhead assumes human form to manifest itself 
visibly to all men. Through the mediation of these 
deities incarnate, mankind is redeemed and saved 
not through the Messiah expected to assemble the 
Jews and lead them back to Jerusalem. The latter 
is a false belief: Jerusalem and the Temple will 
never be rebuilt. The Talmud, indeed, interprets 
revealed faith otherwise ; but its interpretation is 
baneful, and has led its adherents into error and 
unbelief. The Talmud contains most revolting 
statements ; such as that Jews are permitted, indeed, 
obliged, to deceive and slay Christians. The Zohar, 
which is diametrically opposed to the Talmud, offers 
the only true and correct interpretation of the Holy 


Writings. All these absurd statements, the Frank- 

!? TV? 5 * 10 ? J th su PP rted b y Passages from 
the Bible and the Zohar ; and to vilify the Talmud 
passages in it were intentionally misrepresented' 
The creed was printed and published in the Hebrew 
and the Polish language. The representatives of 
the Polish community the Synod of the Four 
Countries were painfully sensible, in their desperate 
situation of the want of education prevalent amono- 
them. They could not produce a single man who 
could expose the imposture of the Frankists and 
the hollowness of their creed in well-turned or even 
tolerable language. The proud leaders of the 
bynod behaved like children in their anxiety. They 
helplessly devised extravagant schemes, wished to 
appeal to the pope, and to incite the Portuguese in 
Amsterdam and Rome to protect them from the 
machinations of their vindictive enemies. 

Bishop Dembowski consented to the proposition 
of the Frankists, and issued a command that the 
Talmudists send deputies to a disputation at 
Kamieniec, failing which he would punish them and 
burn the Talmud as a book hostile to Christianity. 
In^vain the Polish Jews referred to their ancient 
privileges, screened themselves behind great nobles, 
and spent large sums of money. They were obliged 
to prepare for the disputation and render account 
to the enemies they had so greatly despised. Only 
a few rabbis appeared. What could the representa- 
tives of the Talmud, with their profound ignorance 
and halting speech, effect against the audacious de- 
nunciations of the Frankists, particularly as they also 
acknowledged the Zohar as a sacred book, and this, 
as a matter of fact, formulates the doctrine of a kind 
of Trinity ! What happened at the disputation of 
Kamieniec has never transpired. The Talmudists 
were accounted as vanquished and refuted. Bishop 
Dembowski publicly declared (October 14, 1757), 
that, as the anti-Talmudists had set down in writing 


and proved the chief points of their confession of 
faith, they were permitted everywhere to hold dis- 
putations with the Talmudists. Copies of the Tal- 
mud were ordered to be confiscated, brought to 
Kamieniec, and there publicly burned by the hang- 
man. Dembowski was permitted arbitrarily to favor 
the one party and condemn the other. The king 
of Poland and his minister, Count Bruhl, troubled 
themselves but little about internal affairs, still less 
about'the Jews. Hence Dembowski, who at about 
that time was made archbishop of Lemberg, was 
allowed with the aid of the clergy, the police, and 
the Frankists, to search for copies of the Talmud 
and other rabbinical writings in the towns of his 
bishopric, collect them at Kamieniec, and drag them 
through the streets in mockery. Only the Bible 
and the Zohar were to be spared, as in the time of 
the Talmud persecution under Popes Julius IV and 
Pius V. Nearly a thousand copies of the Talmud 
were thrown into a great pit at Kamieniec and burnt 
by the hangman. The Talmudists could do nothing, 
but groan, weep, and proclaim a rigorous fast-day 
on account of "the burning of the Torah." It was 
the Kabbala that had kindled the torches for the 
funeral pile of the Talmud. The clergy, in con- 
junction^yith the anti-Talmudists, daily made domi- 
ciliary visits into Jewish houses to confiscate copies 
of the Talmud. 

To free themselves and all other Jews from the 
oft repeated, and as often refuted, accusation of 
child-murder, which the abject Frankists had con- 
firmed, the Jewish Talmudists sent Eliakim Selig 
(Selek) to Benedictus XIV, to procure an official 
exposure of the falsehood of the charge brought 
against Jews. Eliakim's determination and persis- 
tence succeeded in obtaining this authoritative ac- 
quittal in Rome at the end of 1757. 

Suddenly Bishop Dembowski died (November 1 7, 
1757) a violent death, and this led to a new devel- 


opment in the controversy. Persecution of the 
Talmudists immediately ceased, and from that time 
the Frankists were persecuted, imprisoned, and de- 
clared outlaws. Their beards were shaved off as a 
mark of disgrace and to make them easily recog- 
nizable. The majority, no longer able to maintatn 
themselves in Kamieniec, fled to the neighboring 
province of Bessarabia. But they were even more 
disturbed under Turkish jurisdiction. Their perse- 
cutors informed the Jewish community of the arrival 
of the anti- Talmudists in their district and of their 
injuriousness to Judaism, and the former had only 
to notify the Pasha and the Cadi that these sup- 
posed Polish Jews were not under the protection of 
the Chacham Bashi (chief rabbi) of Constantinople 
in order to invite the Turks to fall upon the new- 
comers and mercilessly rob and ill-treat them. 
In despair the Frankists wandered restlessly about 
the borderlands of Podolia and Bessarabia. At 
length they addressed the king of Poland, and im- 
plored him to confirm the privilege tolerating their 
worship granted them by Bishop Dembowski. Au- 
gustus III, the weakling and martyr of the seven 
years' war, thereupon issued a decree (June u, 
J 758) permitting the Frankists to return unmolested 
to their homes, and reside in Poland wherever they 
pleased. The decree was not enforced with suffi- 
cient energy, and the Frankists continued to be 
persecuted by their opponents aided by the nobles. 
In their trouble some of their body were sent to beg 
Frank, who had so long forsaken them, to assist 
them with his advice- While affecting to demur, he 
willingly obeyed their call and repaired again to 
Podolia (January, 1759). 

With his appearance the old game of intrigue 
began once more. Frank was from that time the 
life and soul of his followers, and without his com- 
mands they undertook nothing. He saw clearly 
that the hypocrisy of simply declaring that the anti- 


Talmudists believed in the Trinity must not be re- 
peated, but that they must make more of a conces- 
sion to Christianity. By his advice six Frankists, 
the majority foreigners, repaired to Wratislav Lu- 
bienski, Archbishop of Lemberg, with the declara- 
tion (February 20, 1 759), tl in the name of their whole 
body," that they were all willing, under certain con- 
ditions, to be baptized. In their petition they used 
phrases savoring of Catholicism, and breathed ven- 
geance against their former co-religionists. Lubi- 
enski had this petition of the Zoharites printed, in 
order, on the one hand, to proclaim the victory of 
the Church, on the other, to keep the members of 
this sect to their word; but he did nothing for them. 
Although in their Catholic and Kabbalistic language 
they declared that they were languishing for bap- 
tism "like the hart for the water-brooks/' they did 
not in the least contemplate an immediate formal 
secession to Christianity. Frank, their leader, whom 
they blindly followed, did not consider the time ripe 
for this extreme measure. He reserved it to ex- 
tort favorable terms, which were embodied in an 
address presented to the king and Archbishop 
Lubienski (May 16, 1759) by two deputies. They 
insisted especially on a disputation with their oppo- 
nents, adducing as a reason, that they wished to 
show the world that they were led to embrace 
Christianity, not from necessity and poverty, but 
through conviction. They wished, moreover, to 
give an opportunity to their secret confederates to 
publicly avow themselves believers in Christianity, 
which they would infallibly do if their righteous 
cause should triumph in public argument. Finally 
they hoped in this way to open the blinded eyes of 
their antagonists. To this cunningly devised pe- 
tition breathing malice against their enemies, the 
king made no reply, while Lubienski answered 
evasively that he could only promise them eternal 
salvation if they allowed themselves to be baptized; 


the rest would follow as a matter of course. He 
displayed no zeal whatever for the conversion of 
these ragged fellows whom he believed to be dis- 
semblers. The papal nuncio in Warsaw, Nicholas 
Serra, did not regard with favor the idea of the con- 
version of the anti-Talmudists. 

The position of affairs changed, however, when 
Lubienski withdrew to Gnesen, his arch-episcopal 
seat, and the administrator of the archbishopric of 
Lemberg, the canon De Mikulski, showed more zeal 
for conversion. He immediately promised the 
Frankists to arrange a religious conference between 
them and the Talmudists, if they would exhibit a 
sincere desire for baptism. On this the deputies, 
Leb Krysa and Solomon of Rohatyn, in the name 
of the whole body, made a Catholic confession of 
faith (May 25), which savored of Kabbalism: (t the 
cross is the symbol of the Holy Trinity and the seal 
of the Messiah." It closed with these words: "The 
Talmud teaches the use of the blood of Christians, 
and whosoever believes in it is bound to use this 
blood." Thereupon Mikulski, without consulting 
the papal nuncio Serra, made arrangements for a 
second disputation in Lemberg (June, 1759). The 
rabbis of this diocese were summoned to appear, 
under pain of a heavy fine, and the nobility and 
clergy were requested in case of necessity to com- 
pel them. The nuncio Serra, to whom the Talmud- 
ists complained, was in the highest degree dis- 
satisfied with the idea of the disputation, but did 
not care to prevent it because he wished to learn 
with certainty whether the Jews used the blood of 
Christians. This appeared to him the most impor- 
tant point of all. Just at this time Pope Clement 
XIII had given a favorable answer on this question 
to the Jewish deputy Selek. Clement XIII pro- 
claimed that the Holy See had examined the 
grounds on which rested the belief in the use of 
human blood for the feast of the Passover and the 


murder of Christians by Jews, and that the Jews 
must not be condemned as criminals in respect of 
this charge, but that in the case of such occurrences 
legal forms of proof must be used. Notwithstand- 
ing this, the papal envoy at this very time, deceived 
by the meanness of the Frankists, partially credited 
the false accusation, and notified the Curia of it. 

The religious conference which was to lead to the 
conversion of so many Jews, at first regarded with 
indifference, began to awaken interest. The Polish 
nobilit} 7 of both sexes purchased admission cards at 
a high price, the proceeds to go to the poor people 
who were to be baptized. On the appointed day 
the Talmudists and Zoharites were brought into the 
cathedral of Lemberg ; all the clergy, nobility, and 
burghers crowded thither to witness the spectacle 
of Jews, apparently belonging to the same religion, 
hurling at each other accusations of the most abom- 
inable crimes. In reality it was the Talmud and the 
Kabbala, formerly a closely united pair of sisters, 
who had fallen out with each other. The disputation 
failed miserably. Of the Frankists, who had boast- 
fully given out that several hundreds of their party 
would attend, only about ten appeared, the rest 
being too poor to undertake the long journey and 
attire themselves decently. Of the Talmudists 
forty were present owing to their dread of the 
threatened fine. How Judaism had retrograded in 
the century of " enlightenment " when compared 
with the thirteenth century ! At that time, on a 
similar occasion, the spokesman of the Jews, Moses 
Nachmani, proudly confronted his opponents at the 
court of Barcelona, and almost made them quake 
by his knowledge and firmness. In Lemberg the 
representatives of Talmudic Judaism stood awkward 
and disconcerted, unable to utter a word. They 
did not even understand the language of the country 
their opponents, to be sure, were in like case 
and interpreters had to be employed. But the 


Catholic clergy in Poland and the learned classes 
also betrayed their astounding ignorance. Not a 
single Pole understood Hebrew or the language 
of the rabbis sufficiently to be an impartial witness 
of the dispute, whilst in Germany and Holland 
Christians acquainted with Hebrew could be counted 
by hundreds. The Talmudists had a difficult part 
to play in this religious conference. The chief thesis 
of the Frankists was that the Zohar teaches the 
doctrine of the Trinity, and that one Person of the 
Godhead became incarnate. Could they dare to 
deny this dogma absolutely without wounding the 
feelings of the Christians, their masters ? And 
that leanings toward this doctrine were to be found 
in the Zohar they could not deny. Of course, they 
might have refuted completely the false charge of 
using the blood of Christian children and of the 
bloodthirsty nature of the Talmud, or might have 
cited the testimony of Christians and even the 
decisions of popes. They were, however, ignorant 
of the history of their own suffering, and their 
ignorance avenged itself on them. It is easy to 
believe that the Talmudic spokesmen, after the 
three days' conference, returned home ashamed and 
confused. Even the imputation of shedding Chris- 
tian blood continued to cling to their religion. 

The Zoharites who had obtained their desire were 
now strongly urged by the clergy to perform their 
promise, and allow themselves to be baptized. 
But they continued to resist as if it cost them a 
great struggle, and only yielded at the express 
command of their chief, Frank, and in his presence. 
The latter appeared with great pomp, in magnifi- 
cent Turkish robes, with a team of six horses, and 
surrounded by guards in Turkish dress. He wished 
to impress the Poles. His was the strong will which 
led the Frankists, and which they implicitly obeyed. 
Some thousand Zoharites were baptized on this 
occasion. Frank would not be baptized in Lemberg, 


but appeared suddenly, with dazzling magnificence, 
in Warsaw (October," 1759), aroused the curiosity 
of the Polish capital, and requested the favor that 
the king would stand godfather to him. The news- 
papers of the Polish capital were full of accounts of 
the daily baptisms of so many Jews, and of the 
names of the great nobles and ladies who were their 
godparents. But the Church could not rejoice in 
her victory. Frank was watched with suspicion by 
the clergy. They did not trust him, and suspected 
him to be a swindler who, under the mask of Chris- 
tianity, as formerly under that of Islam, desired to 
play a part as the leader of a sect. The more 
Frank reiterated the demand that a special tract of 
country be assigned to him, the more he aroused 
the suspicion that he was pursuing selfish aims and 
that baptism had been but a means to an end. 
The Talmud Jews neglected nothing to furnish 
proofs of his impostures. At length he was un- 
masked and betrayed by some of his Polish followers, 
who were incensed at being neglected for the foreign 
Frankists, and showed that with him belief in Chris- 
tianity was but a farce, and that he had commanded 
his followers to address him as Messiah and God 
Incarnate and Holy Lord. He was arrested and 
examined by the president of the Polish Inquisition 
as an impostor and a blasphemer. The depositions 
of the witnesses clearly revealed his frauds, and he 
was conveyed to the fortress of Czenstochow and 
confined in a convent (March, 1760). Only the fact 
that the king was his godfather saved Frank from 
being burnt at the stake as a heretic and apostate. 
His chief followers were likewise arrested and 
thrown into prison. The rank and file were in part 
condemned to work on the fortifications of Czen- 
stochow, and partly outlawed. Many Frankists 
were obliged to beg for alms at the church doors, 
and were treated with contempt by the Polish pop- 
ulation. They continued true, however, to their 


Messiah or Holy Lord. All adverse events they 
accounted for in the Kabbalistic manner : they had 
been divinely predestined. The cloister of Czen- 
stochow they named mystically, "The gate of 
Rome." Outwardly they adhered to the Catholic 
religion, and joined in all the sacraments, but they 
associated only with each other, and like their Turk- 
ish comrades, the Donmah, intermarried only with 
each other. The families descended from them in 
Poland, Wolowski, Dembowski, Dzalski, are still at 
the present day known as Frenks or Shabs. Frank 
was set at liberty by the Russians, after thirteen 
years' imprisonment in the fortress, played the part 
of impostor for over twenty years elsewhere, in 
Vienna, Brunn, and at last in Offenbach ; set up his 
beautiful daughter Eva as the incarnate Godhead, 
and deceived the world until the end of his life, and 
even after his death ; but with this part of his career 
Jewish history has nothing to do. 

For all these calamitous events, Jonathan Eibe- 
schiitz was in some measure to blame. The Frank- 
ists regarded him, the great Gaon, as one of them- 
selves, and he did nothing to clear himself from the 
stigma of this suspicion. He was implored to aid 
the Polish Jews, to make his influence felt in refuting 
the charge of the use of Christian blood. He re- 
mained silent as if he feared to provoke the Frank- 
ists against himself. Some of his followers who had 
warmly upheld him began to distrust him, among 
them Ezekiel Landau, at that time chief rabbi of 
Prague. Jacob Emden had won the day, he could 
flourish over him the scourge of his scorn ; and he 
pursued him even beyond the grave as the most 
abandoned being who had ever disgraced Judaism. 
The rabbinate had placed itself in the pillory, and 
undermined its own authority. But it thereby 
loosened the soil from which a better seed could 
spring forth. 

Whilst Eibeschiitz and his opponents were squab- 


bling over amulets and Sabbatian heresy, and Jacob 
Frank Lejbowicz was carrying on his Zoharistic 
frauds, Mendelssohn and Leasing were cementing 
a league of friendship, Portugal was extinguishing 
its funeral fires for the Marranos, and in England 
the question of the emancipation of the Jews was 
being seriously discussed in Parliament. 



Renaissance of the Jewish Race Moses Mendelssohn His Youth- 
Improves Hebrew Style Lessing and Mendelssohn Mendels- 
sohn's WritingsThe Bpnnet-Lavater Controversy Kolbele 
The Burial Question Reimarus Anonymous Publication of his 
Work Lessing's "Nathan the Wise "Mendelssohn in 
"Nathan" Mendelssohn's Pentateuch Opposition to it The 
"Berlin Religion" Montesquieu Voltaire Portuguese Mar- 
ranos in Bordeaux Isaac Pinto His Defense of Portuguese 
Jews Dohm and Mendelssohn Joseph II of Austria Michaelis 
Mendelssohn's "Jerusalem" Wessely: his Circular Letter 
Mendelssohn's Death. 

17501786 c. K. 

CAN "a nation be born at once" or can a people 
be regenerated? If the laboriously constructed 
organism of a nation has lost vitality, if the bonds 
connecting the individual parts are weakened, and 
internal dissolution has set in, even the despotic 
will which keeps the members in a mechanical union 
being wanting ; in short, if death comes upon a 
commonalty in its corporate state, and it has been 
entombed, can it be resuscitated and undergo a re- 
vival ? This doom has overtaken many nationalities 
of ancient and modern times. But if in such a 
people a new birth should take place, i.e., a resur- 
rection from death and apparent decomposition, and 
if this should occur in a race long past its youthful 
vigor, whose history has spread over thousands of 
years, then such a miracle deserves the most at- 
tentive consideration from every man who does not 
stolidly overlook what is marvelous. 

The Jewish race has displayed miraculous phe- 
nomena, not only in ancient days, the age of mira- 
cles, but also in this matter-of-fact epoch. A com- 
munity which was an object of mockery not merely 



to the malicious and ignorant, but almost more to 
benevolent and cultured men; despicable in its own 
eyes ; admirable only by reason of its domestic vir- 
tues and ancient memories, both, however, disfigured 
beyond recognition by trivial observances; scourging 
itself with bitter irony ; of which a representative 
member could justly remark, "My nation has Be- 
come so estranged from culture, that the. possibility 
of improvement is doubtful" this community 
nevertheless raised itself from the dust ! It revived 
with marvelous rapidity from its abjection, as if a 
prophet had called unto it, " Shake thyself from the 

dust ; arise loose thyself from the bands 

of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion ! " And 
who caused this revival ? One man, Moses Men- 
delssohn, who may be considered the incarnation 
of his race stunted in form, awkward, timid, stut- 
tering, ugly, and repulsive in appearance. But 
within this race-deformity breathed a thoughtful 
spirit, which only when misled pursued chimeras, 
and lost its self-esteem only when proscribed. No 
sooner did it understand that it was the exponent 
of the truth, than it dismissed its visionary fancies, 
its spirit transfigured the body, and raised the bent 
form erect, the hateful characteristics disappeared, 
and the scornful nickname of " Jew " was changed 
almost into a title of honor. _ - 

This rejuvenescence or renaissance of the Jewish 
race, which may be unhesitatingly ascribed to Men- 
delssohn, is noteworthy, inasmuch as the originator 
of this great work neither intended nor suspected 
it ; in fact, as already remarked, he almost doubted 
the capacity for rejuvenescence in his brethren. He 
produced this altogether unpremeditated glorious 
result not by means of his profession or his public 
position. He was not a preacher in the wilderness, 
who urged the lost sons of Israel to a change of 
mind ; all his life he shrank from direct exercise of 
influence. Even when sought after, he avoided 



leadership of ^very kind with the oft-repeated con- 
fession, that he was in no way fitted for the office. 
Mendelssohn played an influential part \vithout 
either knowing or desiring it: involuntarily, he 
aroused the slumbering genius of the Jewish race, 
which only required an impulse to free itself from 
its constrained position and develop. The story 
of his life is interesting, because it typifies the history 
of the Jews' in recent times, when they raised them- 
selves from lowliness and contempt to greatness 
and self-consciousness. 

Moses Mendelssohn (born at Dessau, August, 
1728, died in Berlin, January 4, 1786) Was as insig- 
nificant arid wretched an object as almost all poor 
Jewish children. At this time even infants seemed 
to possess a servile appearance. For quick-witted 
boys there was no period of youth ; they were early 
made to shiver and shake by the icy breath of 
rough life. They were thus prematurely awakened 
to think, and hardened for their struggle with un- 
lovely reality. One day Mendelssohn, a weakly, 
deformed lad in his fourteenth year, knocked at the 
door in one of the gates of Berlin. A Jewish 
watchman, a sort of police officer, the terror of im- 
migrant Jews, who was ordered to refuse admission 
to those without means of subsistence, harshly ad- 
dressed the pale, crippled boy seeking admission. 
Fortunately, he managed bashfully to stammer out 
that he desired to enroll himself among the Talmud- 
ical pupils of the new rabbi of Berlin. This was a 
kind of recommendation, and enabled him to dis- 
pense with a full purse. Mendelssohn was admit- 
ted, and directed his steps towards the house of the 
rabbi, David Frankel, his countryman and teacher, 
who had shortly before been called from Dessau to 
the rabbinate of Berlin. 

He took aa interest in the shy youth, allowed 
him to attend his rabbinical lectures, provided for 
his maintenance, and employed him in copying his 


Commentary to the Jerusalem Talmud, because 
Mendelssohn had inherited a beautiful handwriting 
as his only legacy from his father, a writer of scrolls 
of the Law. Even if Mendelssohn learnt from 
Frankel nothing besides the Talmud, yet the latter 
exerted a favorable influence upon the mind of his 
disciple, because his method, exercising itself upon 
virgin soil, the Jerusalem Talmud, was not so dis- 
torted, hair-splitting, and perverse as that of most 
expounders of the Talmud, who made the crooked 
straight, and the straight crooked. Mendelssohn's 
innate honesty and yearning for truth were not sup- 
pressed or hindered by his first teacher, and this 
was of value. 

Like the majority of Talmud disciples (Bachurim) 
Mendelssohn led the life of poverty which the 
Talmud in a measure makes a stipulation for 
study : 

" Eat bread with salt, drink water by measure, sleep upon the hard 
earth, live a life of privations, and busy thyself with the Law." 

His ideal at this time was to perfect himself in the 
knowledge of the Talmud. Was it chance that im- 
planted in Berlin the seed destined to produce 
such luxuriant fruit? Or would the result have 
been the same, if he had remained with Frankel in 
Dessau, or if the latter had been called to Halber- 
stadt, or Furth, or Metz, or Frankfort? It is highly 
improbable. Retired though Mendelssohn's life was, 
yet a fresh breeze was wafted from the Prussian 
capital into the narrow chambers of his Rabbinical 
studies. With the accession of Frederick the 
Great, who besides war cultivated the Muses 
(though in a French garb), literary dilettanteism, 
French customs, and contempt for religion began 
to grow into fashion among Berlin Jews. Although 
their condition under Frederick was restricted, yet, 
because s-everal became wealthy, the new spirit did 
not pass over them without leaving an impression, 


however inadequate and superficial. An impulse 
towards culture, the spirit of innovation, and imita- 
tion of Christian habits began to manifest them- 

A Pole first introduced Mendelssohn to the phil- 
osophical work of Maimuni, which for him and 
through him became a " Guide of the Perplexed." 
The spirit of the great Jewish thinker, whose ashes 
had lain in Palestine for more than five hundred 
years, came upon young Mendelssohn, inspired him 
with fresh thoughts, and made him, as it were, his 
Elisha. What signified to Mendelssohn the long 
interval of many centuries? He listened to the 
words of Maimuni as if sitting at his feet, and im- 
bibed his wise instruction in deep draughts. He 
read this book again and again, until he became 
bent by constant perusal of its pages. From the 
Pole, Israel Zamosc, he also learned mathematics 
and logic, and from Aaron Solomon Gumpertz a 
liking for -good literature. Mendelssohn learned to 
spell and to philosophize at the same time, and re- 
ceived only desultory assistance in both. He prin- 
cipally taught and educated himself. He cultivated 
firmness of character, tamed his passions, and ac- 
customed himself, even before he knew what 
wisdom was, to live according to her rules. In this 
respect also Maimuni was his instructor. By nature 
Mendelssohn was violent and hot-tempered; but 
he taught himself such complete self-mastery that, 
a second Hillel, he became distinguished for meek- 
ness and gentleness. 

As if Mendelssohn divined it to be his mission to 
purify the morals and elevate the minds of his 
brethren, he, still a youth, contributed to a Hebrew 
newspaper, started by associates in sympathy with 
him for the purpose of ennobling the Jews. The 
firstlings of his intellect are like succulent grass in 
the early spring. He abandoned the ossified, dis- 
torted, over-embellished Hebrew style of his con- 


temporaries, which had debased the Hebrew lan- 
guage into the mere mumbling of a decrepit tongue. 
Fresh and clear as a mountain-stream the Hebrew 
outpourings of Mendelssohn welled forth. Philos- 
ophical-religious views pervaded these early works, 
not only where he desired to depict trust in God 
and the Inefficacy of evil, but also the rejuvenes- 
cence of nature in her spring vesture, and the 
delight of the pure mind of man at this beautiful 
change. The school of suffering through which he 
had passed for so many years, instead of dragging 
him down, had awakened, elevated, and ennobled 
his spirit. His struggles for a livelihood ceased 
when he obtained the situation as tutor in a rich 
family (that of Isaac Bernard), which, though not 
over-lucrative, sufficed for his frugal habits. His 
journeyman days were, however, not yet at an end. 
The old and the new, tradition and original views 
agitated his mind; clearness and self-consciousness 
were to flow into it from another source. 

To the great minds which Germany produced in 
the eighteenth century belongs Gotthold Ephraim 
Lessing. He was the first free-thinking man in 
Germany, probably more so than the royal hero 
Frederick, who had indeed liberated himself from 
bigotry, but still had idols to whom he sacrificed. 
With his gigantic mind, Lessing burst through all 
bounds and regulations which depraved taste, dry- 
as-dust science, haughty orthodoxy, and pedantry 
of every kind had desired to set up and perpetuate. 
The freedom that Lessing brought to the Germans 
was more solid and permanent than that which 
Voltaire aroused in depraved French society with 
his biting sarcasm ; for, .his purpose was to ennoble, 
and his wit was only a means to this end. Lessing 
wished to exalt the theatre to a pulpit, and art to 
a religion. Voltaire degraded philosophy into light 
gossip for the drawing-room. 

It was an important moment for the history of 


the Jews, when these two young men, Mendelssohn 
and Lessing, became acquainted. It is related that 
a passionate lover of chess, named Isaac Hess, 
brought them together at the chess-board (1754). 
The royal game united two monarchs in the king- 
dom of thought. Lessing, the son of a pastor, was 
of a democratic nature : he sought the society of 
outcasts, and those despised by public opinion. As 
shortly before he had mixed with actors in Leipsic, 
and as afterwards he associated with soldiers in 
Breslau, so now he was not ashamed to converse in 
Berlin with despised Jews. He had before this 
dedicated the first-fruits of his art, which to him ap- 
peared the highest art, to the pariah nation. By 
his drama, " The Jews/' he desired to show that a 
Jew can be unselfish and noble, and he thereby 
aroused the displeasure of cultivated Christian cir- 
cles. The ideal of a noble Jew which Lessing had in 
mind while composing this drama, he saw realized 
in Mendelssohn, and it must have pleased him to 
find that he was not mistaken in his portraiture, 
and that reality did not disprove his dream. 

As soon as Lessing and Mendelssohn became 
acquainted, they learned to respect and love each 
other. The latter admired in his Christian friend 
his ability and unconstraint, his Courage and perfect 
culture, his overflowing spirit, and the vigor which 
enabled him to bear a new world upon his broad 
shoulders ; and Lessing admired in Mendelssohn 
nobility of thought, a yearning for truth, and firm- 
ness of character based upon a moral nature. They 
were both so imbued with lofty nobility of mind 
that the one prized in the other whatever perfection 
he could not attain to equally with his friend. 
Lessing suspected in his Jewish friend "a second 
Spinoza, who would do honor to his nation/' Men- 
delssohn was completely enchanted by Lessing's 
friendship. A friendly look from him, he confessed, 
had such power over his mind that it banished all 


grief.* They exerted perceptible influence upon 
each other. Lessing, at that time a mere Schon- 
geist," as it was termed, aroused in Mendelssohn 
an interest for noble forms, aesthetic culture, poetry, 
and art; the latter in return stimulated Lessing to 
philosophical thought. Thus they reciprocally gave 
and received, the true relationship in a worthy 
friendship. The bond of amity became so_ strong, 
and united the two friends so sincerely, that it lasted 
beyond the grave. 

The stimulus that Mendelssohn received from his 
friend was extraordinarily fruitful both for him and 
for the Jews. It maybe said without exaggeration 
that Lessing's influence was greater in ennobling 
the Jewish race than in elevating the German peo- 
ple, due to the fact that the Jews were more eager 
for study and more susceptible to culture. All that 
Mendelssohn gained by intercourse with his friend 
benefited Judaism. Through his friend, who by 
reason of a genial, sympathetic nature exerted 
great attraction upon talented men, Mendelssohn 
was introduced into his circle, learned the forms of 
society, and threw off the awkwardness which was 
the stamp of the Ghetto. He now devoted himself 
zealously to the acquisition of an attractive German 
style a difficult task, as the German language was 
strange to him, and the German vocabulary in use 
among Jews was antiquated and misleading. Nor 
had he any pattern to follow ; for,' before Lessing 
enriched German style with his genius, it was un- 
wieldy, rugged, and ungraceful. But Mendelssohn 
overcame all difficulties. He withdrew, as he ex- 
pressed it, "a portion of his love from the worthy 
matron (philosophy), to bestow it upon a wanton 
maiden (the so-called belles-lettres '.)" Before a 
year's intimacy with Lessing elapsed, he was able 
to compose in excellent form his " Philosophical 
Conversations" (the beginning of 1755), in which 
he, the Jew, blamed the Germans, because, misap- 


prehending the depth of their own genius/ they 
bore the yoke of French taste: "Will, then, the 
Germans never recognize their own worth ? Will 
they always exchange their gold for the tinsel of 
their neighbors?" This rebuke was applicable 
even to the philosophical monarch Frederick II, 
who could not sufficiently scorn native talent, nor 
sufficiently admire that of foreign lands. The Jew 
was jtnore German than most of the Germans of 
his time. 

^ His patriotic feelings for Judaism did not suffer 
diminution thereby ; they were united in his heart 
with love for German ideals. Although he could 
never overcome his dislike to Spinoza's revolution- 
ary system, yet in his first work he strove to save 
the latter 's^ birthright in the new metaphysics. The 
" Philosophical Conversations" Mendelssohn handed 
to his friend, with the jesting remark that he could 
produce something like Shaftesbury, the English- 
man. Without his knowledge Lessing had them 
printed, and thus contributed the first leaves to his 
friend's crown of laurel. Through Lessing s zeal to 
advance him in every way, Mendelssohn became 
known in the learned circle in Berlin. When a 
11 Coffee-house of the Learned," for an association 
of about one hundred men of science, was established 
in the Prussian capital, hitherto deficient in literary 
interests, the founders did not pass over the young 
Jewish philosopher, but invited him to ]oin them. 
Every month some member delivered a discourse 
upon a scientific subject. Mendelssohn, however, 
was prevented from reading in public by modesty 
and an imperfection of speech ; .he presented his 
contribution in writing. His essay was called an 
" Inquiry into Probability," which must replace cer- 
tainty in the limited sphere of human knowledge. 
While it was being read aloud, he was recognized 
as the author, and was applauded by the critical 
audience. Thus Mendelssohn was made a citizen 


in the republic of literature, took an active part in 
the literary productions of the day, and contributed 
to the " Library of the Fine Arts," which had been 
founded by his friend Nicolai. His taste became 
more refined every day, his style grew nobler, and 
his thoughts more lucid. His method of presenta- 
tion was the more attractive because he seasoned it 
with incisive wit. 

That which the Jews had lost through the abase- 
ment of thousand years of slavery, Mendelssohn 
now recovered for them in a short space of time. 
Almost all, with the exception of a few Portuguese 
and Italian Jews, had lost pure speech, the_ first 
medium of intellectual intercourse, and a childish 
jargon had been substituted, which, a true com- 
panion of their misfortunes, appeared unwilling to 
forsake them. Mendelssohn felt disgust at the utter 
neglect of language. He saw that the Jewish cor- 
rupt speech contributed not a little to the " immor- 
ality of the average man/' and he hoped for good 
results from the attention beginning to be paid to 
pure language. It was one of the consequences of 
the debasement of language, that the German and 
Polish Jews had lost all sense of form, taste for 
artistic beauty, and aesthetic feeling. Oppression 
from without and their onerous duties, which had 
reduced them to veritable slaves, had banished from 
their midst these, together with many other, enno- 
bling influences. Mendelssohn recovered these lost 
treasures' for his brethren. He acquired so remark- 
able a sense for the beautiful, that he was afterwards 
recognized by the Germans as a judge in questions 
of taste. The perverse course of study pursued by 
the Jews since the fourteenth century had blunted 
their minds to simplicity. They had grown so 
accustomed to all that was artificial, distorted, super- 
cunningly wrought, and to subtleties, that the sim- 
ple, unadorned truth became worthless, if not childish 
and ridiculous, in their eyes. Their train of thought 


was mostly perverted, uncultivated, and defiant of 
logical discipline. He who in a short time was to 
restore their youthful strength, so schooled himself 
that twisted methods and thoughts became repuo-- 
nant to him. With his refined appreciation for the 
simple, the beautiful, and the true, he acquired a 
profound understanding of -biblical literature, whose 
essence is simplicity and truth. Through the close 
layers of musty rubbish, with which commentaries 
and super-commentaries had encumbered it, he pen- 
etrated to the innermost core, and was able to 
cleanse the beautiful picture from dust, and to under- 
stand and render comprehensible the ancient Rev- 
elation as if it were a new one. Though not gifted 
with the ability of expressing his thoughts poetically 
or rythmically, he had a delicate perception of the 
poetic beauties of every literature, especially of those 
in the holy language. And what formed the crown- 
ing-point of these attainments jvas, that his moral 
views were characterized by extreme delicacy ; he 
was painfully conscientious and truthful, as if there 
flowed through his veins the blood of a long series 
of noble ancestors, who had chosen for their life's 
task all that is honorable and worthy. Almost 
childlike modesty adorned him, modesty quite re- 
mote however from self-despising subservience. 
He combined in himself so many innate and hardly 
acquired qualities, that he formed a striking contrast 
to the caricatures which German and Polish Jews 
of the time presented. There was but one feeling 
wanting in Mendelssohn and this deficiency was 
detrimental to the near future of Judaism! He 
lacked an appreciation for history, for things petty 
on close view, but great in perspective, for the comic 
and tragic course of the human race during the 
progress of time. " What do I know of history \ " 
he observed, in half-apologetic, half-scornful tones ; 
" whatever is called history, political history, history 
of philosophers, I cannot understand." He shared 


this deficiency with his prototype Maimuni, and 
infected his surroundings with it. 

Some of his brilliant qualities shone out from 
Mendelssohn's eyes and features, and won him more 
hearts than if he had striven to gain them. Curiosity 
about " this Jew " began to be aroused even at the 
court of Frederick the Great. He was considered 
the embodiment of wisdom. The dauntless Lessing 
infused such courage into him, that he ventured to 
criticise in a periodical the poetical works of the Prus- 
sian sovereign, and gently hint at their faults (i 760). 
Frederick the Great, who regarded verse-making 
as poetry, and dogmatism as philosophy, worshiped 
the Muse in the court language of the day, thor- 
oughly despised the German tongue, at this time 
pregnant with real poetry, and mocked at intellectual 
treasures sacred to solid thinkers. Mendelssohn, 
the Jew, felt hurt at the king's hatred of German, as 
well as by his superficial judgments. However, as 
one dare not tell the truth to monarchs, he cleverly, 
through the trumpet of praise, emitted a soft note 
of blame, clear enough to the acute reader. 

Skillfully as Mendelssohn had concealed his cen- 
sure of the king, yet a malicious courtier, the 
preacher Justi, discovered It, and also the name of 
the fault-finder, and denounced him, "a Jew, who 
had thrown aside all reverence for the most sacred 
person of His Majesty in insolent criticism of his 
poetry." Suddenly, Mendelssohn received a harsh 
command to appear on a Saturday at Sans-Souci ; 
an act in accordance with the coarseness of the age. 
Full of dread, Mendelssohn made his way to Pots- 
dam to the royal castle, was examined, and asked 
whether he was the author of the disrespectful criti- 
cism. He admitted his offense, and excused him- 
self with the observation, that "he who makes 
verses, plays at nine-pins, and he who plays at nine- 
pins, be he monarch or peasant, must be satisfied 
with the judgment of the boy who has charge of the 


bowls as to the merit of his playing." Frederick 
was no doubt ashamed to punish the Jewish reviewer 
for his subtle criticism in the presence of the French 
cynics of his court, and thus Mendelssohn escaped 

Fortune was extraordinarily favorable to this 
man, unwittingly the chief herald of the future. It 
gave him warm friends, who found true delight in 
exalting him, though a Jew, in public opinion. It 
secured for him a not brilliant, yet fairly indepen- 
dent situation as book-keeper in the house where 
he had hitherto held the toilsome position of resi- 
dent tutor. It bestowed on him a trusty, tender, 
and simple life companion, who surrounded him 
with tokens of devoted love. Fortune soon pro- 
cured a great triumph for him. The Berlin Acad- 
emy had offered a prize for an essay upon the 
subject, "Are philosophical (metaphysical) truths 
susceptible of mathematical demonstration?" 
Modestly Mendelssohn set to work to solve this 
problem. He did not belong to the guild of the 
learned, had not learnt his alphabet until grown up, 
at an age when conventionally educated youths 
have their heads crammed with Latin. When he 
became aware that his friend, the young, highly- 
promising scholar Thomas Abt, was also a compet- 
itor, he almost lost courage, and desired to with- 
draw. Still his work gained the prize (June, 1763), 
not alone over Abt, but even over Kant, whose 
essay received only honorable mention. Mendels- 
sohn obtained the prize of fifty ducats and the 
medal. The Jew, the tradesman, had defeated his 
rivals of the learned guild, Kant's disquisition 
went deeper into the question, but that of Mendels- 
sohn had the advantage of clearness and compre- 
hensibility. "He had torn the thorns from the 
roses of philosophy." Compelled to acquire each 
item of his knowledge by great labor, and having 
only with difficulty become conversant with the 


barbarous dialect of the schools, he did not content 
himself with dry formulae, but exerted himself to 
render intelligible, both for himself and others, 
metaphysical conceptions and truths. This circum- 
stance gained him the victory over his much pro- 
founder opponent. His essay, which together with 
that of Kant was translated into French and^ Latin 
at the expense of the Academy, earned for him as- 
sured renown in the learned world, which was 
enhanced by the fact that the prize-winner was a 

In the same year (October, 1763), he received a 
distinction from King Frederick, characteristic of 
the low condition of the Jews in Prussia. This 
honor was the privilege of being a protected Jew 
(Schutz-Jude), i. ., the assurance that he would not 
some fine day be expelled from Berlin. Hitherto, 
he had been tolerated in Berlin only as a retainer 
of his employer. The philosophical King Freder- 
ick sympathized with the antipathy of his illustrious 
enemy Maria Theresa to the Jews, and issued anti- 
Jewish laws worthy of the Middle Ages rather than 
of the eighteenth century ; so boastful of its human- 
ity. He wished to see the Jews of his dominions 
diminished in number, rather than increased. 
Frederick's "general privilege" for the Jews was 
an insult to the age. Marquis d'Argent, one of 
Frederick's French courtiers, who in his naivete" 
could not conceive that a wise and learned man like 
Mendelssohn might any day become liable to be 
driven out of Berlin by the brutal police, urged 
Mendelssohn to sue for the privilege of protection, 
and the king to grant it. However, a long time 
elapsed before the dry official document granting it 
reached him. At last Mendelssohn became a 
Prussian " Schutz-Jude." 

The philosophical "Schutz-Jude" of Berlin now 
won great success with a work, which met with al- 
most rapturous admiration from his contemporaries 


in all classes of society. Two decades later this 
production was already obsolete, and at the present- 
day has only literary value. Nevertheless, when it- 
appeared, it justly attained great importance; 
Mendelssohn had hit upon the exact moment to 
bring it forward, and he became one of the cele- 
brities of the eighteenth century. For almost six-- 
teen centuries Christianity had educated the nations, 
of Europe, governed them, and almost surfeited 
them with belief in the supernatural. It had em- 
ployed all available means to effect its ends, and 
finally, when the thinkers awakened from their 
slumber induced by its lullabies, to inquire into the 
certainty secured by this announcement of salva- 
tion which promised so much, serious people said 
with regret whilst sceptics chuckled with brutal 
delight that it offered delusive fancies in the place 
of truth. 

In serious compositions, or in satires, the French 
thinkers of the eighteenth century the whole body 
of Materialists had revealed the hollowness of the 
doctrine, in which the so-called civilized peoples 
had found comfort and tranquillity for many cen- 
turies. The world was deprived of a God, the 
heavens were enshrouded in mist; all that had 
hitherto seemed firm and incapable of being- dis- 
placed was turned topsy-turvy. The doctrine of 
Jesus had lost its power of attraction, and become 
degraded in the eyes of the earnest and thoughtful 
to the level of childish fables. Infidelity had be- 
come a fashion. With the undeifying of Jesus 
appeared to go hand-in-hand the dethronement of 
God, and doubt of the important dogma of the im- 
mortality of the soul, which Christian theology had 
borrowed from Greek philosophy and, as always, 
adorning itself with strange feathers, had claimed 
as its original creation. Thereupon depended not 
merely the confidence of mankind in a future exist- 
ence, but also the practical morals of the present. 



If the soul is mortal and transient, they thought in 
the eighteenth century, then the acts of man are of 
no consequence ! Whether he be good or evil, 
virtuous or criminal, on the other side of the grave 
there was no retribution. Thus^ after the long 
dream of many centuries, the civilized portion of 
mankind again fell into the despondency prevalent 
in the Roman society of the empire ; they were 
without God, without support, without moral free- 
dom, without stimulus to a virtuous life. Man had 
been degraded to a complicated machine. 

Mendelssohn was also biased by the prejudice 
that the dignity of man stands and falls with the 
question of the immortality of the soul. He there- 
fore undertook to restore this belief to the cultured 
world, to discover again the lost truth, to establish 
it so firmly and ward off materialistic attacks upon 
it so decisively, that the dying man should calmly 
look forward to a blissful future and to felicity in 
the after-life. He composed a dialogue called 
" Phsedon, or the Immortality of the SouL" It was 
to be a popular book, a new doctrine of salvation 
for the unbelieving or sceptical world. Therefore 
he gave to his dialogue an easily comprehensible, 
attractive style, after the pattern of Plato's dialogue 
of the same name, from which he copied also the 
External form. But Plato supplied him with the 
mere form. Mendelssohn caused his Socrates to 
give utterance to the philosophy of the eighteenth 
century through the mouth of his pupil, Phaedon. 

His starting-point, in proving the doctrine of the 
immortality of the soul, is the fact of the existence 
of God, of which he has the highest possible cer- 
tainty. The soul is the work of God, just as the 
body is; the body does not actually perish after 
dissolution, but is transformed into other elements ; 
much less, then, can the soul, a simple essence, be 
decomposed, and perish. Further, God has ac- 
quainted the soul with the idea of immortality, has 


implanted it in the soul. Can He, the Benevolent 
and True One, practice deception ? 

"If our soul were mortal, then reason would be a dream, which 
Jupiter has sent us that we may forget our misery ; and we would be 
created like the beasts, only to seek food and die." 

Every thought inborn in man must for that reason 
be true and real. 

In demonstrating the doctrine of immortality, 
Mendelssohn had another noble purpose in view. 
He thought to counteract the malady of talented 
youths of the day, the Jerusalem-Werthers, who, 
without a goal for their endeavors, excluded from 
political and elevating public activity, lost in whim- 
sical sentimentality and self-created pain, sank to 
thoughts of suicide, which they carried out, unless 
courage, too, was sicklied over. Mendelssohn, 
therefore, in his " Phaedon " sought to inculcate the 
conviction, that man, with his immortal soul, is a pos- 
session of God, and has no manner of right to decide 
arbitrarily about himself and his life, or about the 
separation of his soul from his body feeble argu- 
mentation, but sufficient for that weakly, effeminate 

With his " Phaedon/ 1 Mendelssohn attained more 
than he had intended and expected, viz., " conviction 
of the heart, warmth of feeling," in favor of the doc- 
trine of immortality. " Phaedon " was the most pop- 
ular book of its time, and was perused with heart 
and soul. In two years it ran through three editions, 
and was immediately translated into all the Euro- 
pean languages, also into Hebrew. Theologians, 
philosophers, artists, poets, such as Herder, Gleim, 
and Goethe, then but a youth, statesmen, and princes 
men and women were edified by it, reanimated 
their depressed religious courage, and, with an en- 
thusiasm which would to-day appear absurd, thanked 
the Jewish sage who had restored to them that 
comfort which Christianity no longer afforded. The 


deliverance by Mendelssohn, the Jew, was as joy- 
fully welcomed by the world grown pagan, as in 
an earlier epoch that effected by the Jews, Jesus and 
Paul of Tarsus, was welcomed by the heathens. 
His contemporaries were delighted both with the 
contents and the form, with the glowing, fresh, vig- 
orous style, a happy, artistic imitation of Plato's 
dialogues. From all sides letters of congratulation 
poured in upon the modest author. Everyone of 
the literary guild who passed through Berlin eagerly 
sought out the Jewish Plato, as one of the greatest 
celebrities of the Prussian capital, to have a word 
with him. The Duke of Brunswick seriously thought 
of securing the services of Mendelssohn for his 
state. The Prince of Lippe-Schaumburg treated 
him as a bosom friend. The Berlin Academy of 
Sciences proposed him as a member. But King 
Frederick struck the name of Mendelssohn off the 
list, because, as it was said, he desired at the same 
time to have the Empress Catherine admitted into 
the learned body, and she would be insulted in hav- 
ing a Jew as a companion. Two Benedictine friars 
one from the convent of Peter, near Erfurt, the 
other from the convent of La Trappe addressed 
Mendelssohn, the Jew, as the adviser of their con- 
science, for instruction in moral and philosophical 
conduct. The book " Phaedon," out of date in twenty 
years, as remarked above, raised its author to the 
height of fame. He was fortunate, because he in- 
troduced it to the world exactly at the right moment. 
An incident vexatious in itself served to exalt 
Mendelssohn to an extraordinary degree in the eyes 
of his contemporaries, and to invest him with the 
halo of martyrdom. John Caspar Lavater, an 
evangelical minister of Zurich, an enthusiast who 
afterwards joined the Jesuits, thought that he had 
found in Mendelssohn's intellectual countenance a 
confirmation of his deceptive art, the reading of the 
character and talents of a man from his features. 


Lavater asserted that in every line of Mendelssohn's 
face the unprejudiced could at once recognize the 
soul of Socrates. He was completely enchanted 
with Mendelssohn's head, raved about it, desiring 
to possess a well-executed model, in order to bring 
honor upon his art. Mendelssohn having caused his 
Phsedon to speak in so Greek a fashion that no one 
could have recognized the author as a Jew, Lavater 
arrived at the fantastic conclusion that Mendelssohn 
had become entirely estranged from his religion. 
Lavater had learned that certain Berlin Jews were 
indifferent to Judaism, and forthwith reckoned Men- 
delssohn amongst their number. There was the 
additional fact that, in a conversation reluctantly 
entered upon with Lavater, Mendelssohn had pro- 
nounced calm, sober judgment upon Christianity, 
and had spoken with a certain respect of Jesus, 
though with the reservation, " if Jesus of Nazareth 
had desired to be considered only a virtuous man." 
This expression appeared to Lavater the dawning 
of grace and belief. What if this great man, this 
incarnation of wisdom, who had become indifferent 
towards Judaism, could be won over to Christianity ! 
This was the train of thought which arose in Lava- 
ter's mind after reading " Phaedon." Ingenuous or 
cunning, he spread his net for Mendelssohn, and 
thus showed how ignorant he was of his true char- 
acter. About this time, a Geneva professor, Caspar 
Bonnet, had written in French a weak apology, en- 
titled "Investigation into the Evidences of Chris- 
tianity against Unbelievers." This work Lavater 
translated into German, and sent to Mendelssohn, 
with an awkward dedication, which looked like a 
snare (September 4, 1769). Lavater solemnly ad- 
jured him to refute publicly Bonnet's proofs of 
Christianity, or, if he found them correct, to do 
" what sagacity, love of truth, and honesty would 
naturally dictate, what a Socrates would have done, 
if he had read this treatise, and found it unanswer- 


able.' 1 If Lavater had been really acquainted with 
the secrets of the heart, as he prided himself, he 
would have understood that, even if Mendelssohn 
had severed all connection with Judaism, Christianity 
was still more repugnant to him, and that sagacity, 
that is to say, regard to profit and the advantages 
of a pleasant existence, was altogether lacking in 
his character. Lavater did not desire to expose 
him before the public, but he wished to create a sen- 
sation, without thinking what pain he was causing 
-the shy scholar of Berlin. 

Mendelssohn later had reason to thank Lavater 
for having through thoughtlessness or pious cunning 
drawn him out of his diffidence and seclusion. Men- 
delssohn had indeed expressed his relations to 
Judaism and his co-religionists so vaguely that on- 
lookers might have been misled. In public life he 
was a philosopher and an elegant writer, who rep- 
resented the principles of humanity and good taste, 
and apparently did not trouble about his race. In 
the darkness of the Ghetto he was a strictly ortho- 
dox Jew, who, apparently unconcerned about the 
laws of beauty, joined in the observance of every 
pious custom. Self-contained and steadfast though 
he was in reality, he seemed to be a twofold per- 
sonality, revealing the one or the other as he was 
in Christian or in Jewish society. He could not 
stand up in defense of Judaism without, on the one 
hand, affronting Christianity by his philosophical 
convictions, and, on the other, showing, if ever so 
lightly, his dissatisfaction with the chaotic traditions 
of the synagogue, and so offending the sensibility 
of his co-religionists and quarreling with them. 
Neither of these courses, owing to his peace-loving 
character, entered his mind. He would have been 
able to pass his life in an attitude of silence, if Lav- 
ater's rude importunity had not dragged him out of 
this false^ position, altogether unworthy of a man 
with a mission. Painful as it was to reveal his in- 


nermost thoughts upon Judaism and Christianity, he 
could not hold his peace at this challenge, without 
being considered a coward even by his friends. 
These reflections weighed heavily upon him, and 
caused him to take up the glove. 

He skillfully carried on the contest thus forced 
upon him, and was ultimately victorious. At the 
end of 1769, in a public letter addressed to Christ- 
endom and Lavater, its representative, Mendels- 
sohn in the mildest form wrote most cutting truths, 
whose utterance in former times would inevitably 
have led to bloodshed or the stake. Mendelssohn 
had examined his religion since the days of his 
youth, and found it true. Philosophy and belles- 
lettres had with him never been an end, but the 
means to prepare him for testing Judaism. He 
could not possibly expect advantage from adher- 
ence to it ; and as for pleasure 

" p my worthy friend, the position assigned to my co-religionists 
in civil life is so far removed from all free exercise of spiritual pow- 
ers, that one's satisfaction is not increased by learning the true rights 
of man. He who knows the state in which we now are, and has a 
humane heart, will understand more than I can express/' 

If the examination of Judaism had not produced 
results favorable to it, what would have chained him 
to a religion so intensely and universally despised, 
what could have prevented him from leaving it? 
Fear of his co-religionists, forsooth ? Their secular 
power was too insignificant to do any harm. 

" I do not deny that I have noticed in rny religion certain human 
additions and abuses, such as every religion accepts in course of 
time, which unfortunately dim its splendor. But of the essentials of 
my faith I am so firmly and indisputably assured, that I call God to 
witness that I will adhere to my fundamental creed as long as my 
soul does not assume another nature." 

He was as opposed to Christianity as ever, for 
the reason which he had communicated to Lavater 
verbally, and which the latter should not have con- 
cealed, namely, that its founder had declared him- 
self to be God. 


"Yet, for my part, Judaism might have been utterly crushed in 
every polemical text-book, and triumphantly arraigned in every 
school composition, without my ever entering into a controversy 
about it. Without the slightest contradiction from me, any scholar 
or any sciolist in subjects Rabbinic might have constructed for himself 
and his readers the most ridiculous view of Judaism out of worthless 
books which no rational Jew reads, or knows of. The contemptible 
opinion held of Jews I would desire to shame by virtue, not by con- 
troversy. My religion, my philosophy, and my status in civil life are 
the weightiest arguments for avoiding all religious discussion, and 
for treating in public writings of truths equally important to all 

Judaism was binding only upon the congregation 
of Jacob. It desired proselytes so little, that the 
rabbis had ordained that any person who offered to 
unite himself to this religion was to be dissuaded 
from his design. 

"The religion of my fathers does not care to be spread abroad ; 
we are not to send missions to the two Indies or to Greenland, to 
preach our belief to remote nations. I have the good fortune to 
possess as friends many excellent men not of my creed. We love 
each other dearly, and never have I said in my heart, 'What a pity 
for that beautitul soul!' It is possible for me to recognize national 
prejudices and erroneous religious opinions among my fellow-citi- 
zens, and nevertheless feel constrained to remain silent, if these 
errors do not directly affect natural religion or natural law (morality), 
but are only accidentally connected with the advancement of good. 
It is true that the morality of our actions does not deserve the name, 

if based upon error But as long as truth is not recognized, 

as long as it does not become national, so as to work as powerful an 
effect upon the great mass of the people as ingrained prejudice, the 
latter must be almost sacred to every friend of virtue, These are the 
reasons that religion and philosophy give me to shun religious 
disputes/ 1 

Besides, being a Jew, he had to be content with 
toleration, because in other countries even this was 
denied his race. " Is it not forbidden, according to 
the laws of your native city," he ask Lavater, 
"for your circumcised friend even to visit you in 
Zurich?" The French work of Bonnet he did not 
find so convincing, he said, as to cause his convic- 
tions to ^ waver ; he had read better defenses of 
Christianity written by Englishmen and Germans ; 
als<Mt was not original, but borrowed from German 
writings. The arguments were so feeble and so 


little tending to prove Christianity that any relig- 
ion could be equally well or badly defended by them. 
If Lavater thought that a Socrates could have been 
convinced of the truth of Christianity by this treat- 
ise, he only showed what power prejudice exerts 
over reason. 

If the evangelical consistory, before whom Men- 
delssohn offered to lay his letter for censorship be- 
fore printing it, did not regret granting him per- 
mission to print whatever he pleased, " because they 
knew his wisdom and modesty to be such that he 
would write nothing that might give public offense/' 
still he undoubtedly did give offense to many pious 

Mendelssohn's epistle to Lavater naturally made 
a great sensation. Since the appearance of Phae- 
don, he belonged to the select band of authors 
whose works every cultivated person felt obliged to 
read. Besides it happened that the subject of the 
controversy was attractive at the time. The free- 
thinkers by no means few at this time were glad 
that at last some one, a Jew at that, had ventured 
to utter a candid word about Christianity. Owing 
to his obtrusiveness and presumptuous advocacy of 
Christianity, Lavater had many enemies. These 
read Mendelssohn's clever reply to the zealous con- 
versionist with mischievous delight. The hereditary 
prince of Brunswick, who, as said above, was 
charmed with Mendelssohn, expressed (January 2, 
1770) his admiration, that he had spoken " with such 
great tact and so high a degree of humanitarianism " 
upon these nice questions. Bonnet himself, less 
objectionable than his servile flatterer, admitted the 
justice of Mendelssohn's cause, and complained of 
Lavater 1 s injudicious zeal A letter of his dated 
January 12, 1770, was almost a triumph for Men- 
delssohn. He said that his dissertation, with which 
Lavater had desired to convert the Jew, had not 
been addressed to the honorable " House of Jacob/' 



for which his heart entertained the smcerest and 
warmest wishes ; much less had it been his inten- 
tion to give the Jewish philosopher a' favorable 
opinion of Christianity. He was full of admiration 
for the wisdom, the moderation, and the abilities of 
the famous son of Abraham. He indeed desired 
him to investigate Christianity, as it could only gain 
by being subjected to a close inquiry by the wise 
son of Mendel. But he did not wish to fall into 
Lavater's mistakes, and make it burdensome _ for 
him. However, in spite of his virtuous indignation, 
Bonnet perpetrated a bit of knavery against Men- 
delssohn. Lavater himself was obliged in a letter 
to publicly beg Mendelssohn's pardon for having 
placed him in so awkward a position, entreating 
him at the same time to attest that he had not in- 
tentionally been guilty of any indiscretion or per- 
fidy. Thus Mendelssohn had an opportunity of 
acting magnanimously towards his opponent. On 
the subject proper under dispute, however, he re- 
mained firm ; he did not surrender an iota of ^his 
Judaism, not even its Talmudical and Rabbinical 
peculiarities, and with every step his courage grew. 
Mendelssohn did not wish to let pass this pro- 
pitious opportunity of glorifying Judaism, which was 
so intensely contemned, and make it clear that it 
was in no way opposed to reason. Despite the 
warnings of timid Jews, to allow the controversy to 
lapse, so as not to stir up persecutions, he pointed 
out with growing boldness the chasm which Chris- 
tianity had dug between itself and reason, whereas 
Judaism in its essence was in accord with reason. 
"The nearer I approach this so highly-esteemed 
religion," he wrote in his examination of Bonnet's 
41 Palingenesie," "the more abhorrent is it to my 
reason." It afforded him especial delight when 
strictly orthodox Christians thought that they were 
abusing Judaism by declaring it to be equivalent to 
natural religion (Deism). 



" Blessed be God, who has given unto us the doctrine of truth. We 
e*^t n t ma ? contrar y to or b eyond reason. We acid nothing, 
" 6ItS and statutes to natur l 

e*t . e ac notng, 

HamT* ?Tt" 6I V tS and statutes ' to natur al religion ; but the fun- 
damental doctrines of our religion rest upon the basis of understand- 

sag'es are fun of ?L g ^ and Ur Pride> and M ^ Writln ^ s of our 

Frankly Mendelssohn spoke to the hereditary 
prince of Brunswick of the untenability of Christian, 
and the reasonableness of Jewish, dogmas, He 
thought that he had not yet done enough for 

"Would to God, another similar opportunity were granted rne I 
would do the same ..... When I consider what we dught to do for 
the recognition of the sanctity of our religion." 

Those who had not wholly parted company with 
reason declared Mendelssohn to be in the right, and 
his defense to be just. They beheld with astonish- 
ment that Judaism, so greatly despised, was yet 
vastly ^ superior to celebrated, official, orthodox 
Christianity. Through its noble son, Judaism cele- 
brated a triumph. The unhappy ardor of Lavater, 
and the refined yet daring answer of Mendelssohn 
for a long time formed the topic of conversation in 
cultured circles in Germany, and even beyond its 
borders. The journals commented upon it, and 
noted every incident. Anecdotes passed backwards 
and forwards between Zurich and Berlin. It was 
said that Lavater had asserted that if he were 
able to continue for eleven days in a state of com- 
plete holiness and prayer, he would most positively 
succeed in converting Mendelssohn to Christianity. 
When Mendelssohn heard this saying whether 
authentic or not it is characteristic of Lavater _ he 
smilingly said, " If I am permitted to sit here in my 
armchair and smoke a pipe philosophically, I have 
no objections !" There was more talk of the contest 
between Mendelssohn and Lavater than of war and 
peace. Every fair brought pamphlets written in 
German and French, unimportant productions, 
which did not deserve to live long. Only a few were 


on Mendelssohn's side, the majority took the part 
of Christianity and its representatives against the 
41 insolence of the Jew," who did not consider it an 
honor to be offered admission into the Christian 

The worst of these was by a petty, choleric 
author, named John Balthasar Kolbele, of Frank- 
fort-on-the-Main, who, from hatred of the Jews, or 
from distemper of body and soul, hurled such coarse 
insults against Mendelssohn, the rabbis, the Jews, 
and Judaism, that his very violence paralyzed his 
onslaught, Kolbele had on a previous occasion 
attacked Mendelssohn, and jeered at him by means 
of a lay figure in one of his forgotten romances. He 
desired to write, or said that he had written, an 
" Anti-Phsedon " against Mendelssohn's "Phaedon." 
His whole gall was vented in a letter to " Mr Men- 
delssohn upon the affair of Lavater and Kolbele " 
(March, 1 770). Against the assertions of Mendels 
sohn as to the purity of Judaism, he brought forward 
the calumnies and perversions of his brother in feel- 
ing, Eisenmenger. Mendelssohn's pure, unselfish 
character was known in almost all cultivated and 
high circles of Europe. Nevertheless, Kolbele cast 
the suspicion upon him of adhering to Judaism from 
self-interest, " because a Jewish bookkeeper is in a 
better position than a Christian professor, and the 
former besides derives some profit from attendance 
in the antechambers of princes." To Mendelssohn's 
asseveration that he would cling to Judaism all his 
lifetime, the malignant fool or libeler rejoined, 
u How little value Christians attach to the oath of a 
Jew ! " Mendelssohn disposed of him in a few words 
in the postscript of a letter addressed to Lavater. 
Nothing more was required; Kolbele had con- 
demned himself. Mendelssohn profited by these 
vilifying attacks, inasmuch as respectable authors, 
who in their hearts were not a little irritated by his 
independent and bold action, left him in peace, 


rather than be associated with Kolbele. Mendels- 
sohn emerged victorious from this conflict, trifling 
only at first sight, which had lasted for nearly two 
years ; he rose in public opinion, because he had 
manfully vindicated his own religion. 

It had brought upon him also the reproaches of 
pious Jews. That which his discernment had feared 
took place. From love of truth he had publicly de- 
clared, that he had found in Judaism certain human 
additions and abuses, which only served to dim its 
splendor. This expression offended those who rev- 
erenced every custom, however un-Jewish, as a 
revelation from Sinai, because it was sanctified by 
time and the code. The entire Jewish world, inclu- 
ding the Berlin community, with the exception of 
the few who belonged to Mendelssohn's circle, 
would not admit that rust had accumulated upon 
the noble metal of Judaism. He was therefore 
questioned on this point, probably by Rabbi Hir- 
schel Lewin, and asked for an exact explanation of 
the phrase. He was very well able to give a reply, 
which probably satisfied the rabbi, who was no 
zealot. But his orthodoxy was still suspected by 
the strictly pious people whom he termed lk the 
Kolbeles of our co-religionists. " He was obliged 
to exculpate himself from the imputation of having 
pronounced the decisions of Talmudical sages " as 
worthless trash." Young Poles, adventurous spirits, 
thirsting for knowledge, "with good minds, but 
confused thoughts," both pure and impure elements, 
forced themselves upon Mendelssohn, and brought 
him into bad repute. The majority had broken not 
alone with the Talmud, but also with religion and 
morality ; they led a dissolute life, and considered 
it the mark of philosophy and enlightenment. Out 
of love to mankind and independent thought, Men- 
delssohn entered into relations with them, held dis- 
cussions with them, advanced and aided them, which 
also cast a false light upon his relations to Judaism. 


The frivolity and excesses of these young men were 
imputed to him, and they were regarded as his 
proteges and disciples. 

He soon gave occasion for an increase of this 
suspicion. The Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerm, to 
avoid the dangers of premature interment, had in a 
mild, fatherly way (April, 1772) forbidden the Jews 
of his land to bury the dead at once, according to 
Jewish usage. Jewish piety towards the deceased, 
which forbids keeping the dead above the earth 
long enough for decomposition to set in a feeling 
petrified in the ritual code was affronted by this 
edict, as though the duke had commanded disre- 
gard of a religious practice. The representatives 
of the congregations of Schwerin supplicated Jacob 
Emden, of Altona, the aged champion of orthodoxy, 
to demonstrate from Talmudic and Rabbinic laws, 
that prolonged exposure of a corpse was an impor- 
tant infringement of Jewish law. Emden, who knew 
his inability to compose a memorial in German, re- 
ferred the people of Schwerin to Mendelssohn, 
whose word had great influence with princes. 
They followed his advice. How astounded were 
they to learn, from a letter of Mendelssohn's (May, 
1 772), that he agreed with the ducal order, that the 
dead should not be buried before the third day ; be- 
cause, according to the experience of competent 
physicians, cases of apparent death were possible ; 
and that it was right, in fact, compulsory, to rescue 
human life in spite of the most stringent ordinances 
of the religious code ! Mendelssohn proved be- 
sides that in Talmudical times precautions were 
taken for the prevention of hasty burial in doubtful 
cases. His opinion was, with the exception of one 
blunder, faultlessly elaborated in the Rabbinical 
manner. Nevertheless, true to his peaceful, com- 
plaisant nature, he sent the formula of a petition to 
the duke to mitigate the decree. Emden, however, 
in his orthodox zeal, stamped this disputed question 


almost as an article of faith. A custom so univer- 
sal among Jews, among Italians and Portuguese as 
well as Germans and Poles, could not be lightly set 
aside. Not much value was to be attached to the 
sayings of doctors. Mendelssohn's Talmudical 
proofs were not conclusive. In a letter Emden 
gave him clearly to understand that he was reprov- 
ing him for his own benefit, to remove the suspicion 
of lukewarm belief, which he had aroused by his 
evil surroundings. Thus arose petty discord be- 
tween Mendelssohn and the rigidly orthodox party, 
which afterwards increased. 

Meanwhile, his friend Lessing, just before his 
death, had unintentionally stirred up a storm in 
Germany which caused the Church to tremble, and, 
under the spell of discontent and an artistic im- 
pulse, he had glorified Mendelssohn, together with 
all Jews, in a perfect poetic creation. The first 
cause of this tempest, which shook Christianity to 
its core, was Mendelssohn's dispute with Lavater. 
Lessing was so indignant at the certainty of victory 
assumed by the representative of Church Christ- 
ianity that he had strenuously encouraged his Jewish 
friend to engage in valorous conflict. 

" You alone dare and are able to write and speak thus upon this 
matter, and are therefore infinitely more fortunate than all other hon- 
est people, who cannot achieve the subversion of this detestable 
structure of unreason otherwise than under the pretense of building a 
new substructure." 

He did not suspect that even then he was holding 
a thunderbolt in his hands, which he would soon be in 
a position to hurl against the false gods who thought 
that they had conquered heaven. During his rest- 
less life, which corresponded to his constantly agi- 
tated spirit, Lessing came to Hamburg, where he 
made the acquaintance of the respected and free- 
thinking family of Reimarus. Hermann Samuel 
Reimarus, a profound inquirer, indignant at the 
fossilized and insolent Lutheran Christianity of the 


Hamburg pastors, had written a "Defense of the 
Rational Worshipers of God/' in which he rejected 
even- revealed religion, endeavoring to secure to 
reason the rights denied it, and depreciating par- 
ticularly the founder of Christianity. Reimarus, 
however, had not courage to utter boldly what he 
recognized as true, and lay bare publicly, in accor- 
dance with his convictions, the weaknesses of the 
dominant religion* He left this treatise, which con- 
tained dangerous and Inflammatory material, to his 
family and to a secret order of free-thinkers, as a 
legacy. Eliza Reimarus, a noble daughter worthy 
of her father, handed fragments of this incendiary- 
manuscript to Lessing, who read them with interest, 
and thought of publishing them. However, he had 
not sufficient confidence in himself to give a decis- 
ion upon points of theological discussion, and, there- 
fore:, sent these fragments to his Jewish friend, who 
was capable of judging them. Mendelssohn did 
not, indeed, find this work very convincing, because 
the author, embittered by the credulity of the 
Church, had fallen into the opposite error of advo- 
cating the most spiritless form of infidelity, and, ac- 
cording to the shortsighted view of that age, of 
finding only petty intrigues in great historical move- 
ments. Despite Mendelssohn's judgment, his friend 
continued to think that this book w r ould be of ser- 
vice in humiliating the Church. He seriously 
thought of hurling the inflammatory writings of 
Reimarus, under a false name, at the Church. But 
the Berlin censorship would not allow them to be 
printed. Then Lessing formed another plan. His 
position as superintendent of the ducal library of 
Brunswick in Wolfenbiittel permitted him to pub- 
lish the manuscript treasures of this rich collection. 
In the interest of truth he perpetrated a falsehood, 
asserting that he had discovered in this library these 
u Fragments of an Unknown," the work of an author 
of the last generation. Under this mask, and pro- 


tected by his immunity from censorship in publish- 
ing contributions u to history and literature from the 
treasures of the library at \Volfenbiittel," he began 
to issue them. He proceeded step by step with the 
publication of these fragments. The first install- 
ments were couched in an entreating tone, asking 
for support of the religion of reason against the 
religion of the catechism and the pulpit. He then 
ventured a step further to prove the impossibility 
of the miracles upon which the Church was based, 
and especially to make apparent the unhistorical 
character and incredibility of the resurrection of 
Jesus, one of the main pillars of Christianity, with 
which it stands and falls. Finally, Lessing pro- 
duced the most important of the fragments at the 
beginning of 17/8, "Upon the Aim of Jesus and 
His Disciples." Herein it was explained that Jesus 
had only desired to announce himself as the Jewish 
Messiah and King of the Jews. To this end he 
had made secret preparations with his disciples, 
formed conspiracies to kindle a revolution in Jeru- 
salem, and attacked the authorities in order to cause 
the downfall of the High Council (the Synhedrion). 
But when this plan of subversion failed, and Jesus 
had to suffer death, his disciples invented another 
system, and declared that the kingdom of Jesus was 
not of this world. They proclaimed him the spirit- 
ual redeemer of mankind, and gave prominence to 
the hope of his speedy reappearance; thus the 
Apostles had concealed and disfigured the original 
system of Jesus. 

This treatment of the early history of Christianity, 
fairly calculated to overthrow the whole edifice of 
the Church, descended like a lightning-flash. It 
was sober, convincing, scientifically elaborated, yet 
comprehensible by everyone. Amazement and 
stupefaction were the effect, especially on the 
publication of the last fragment. Statesmen and 
citizens were as much affected as theologians. 


Public opinion upon the matter was ^ divided. 
Earnest youths about to begin a theologic career 
hesitated ; they did not care to yield their life's 
activity to what was perhaps only a dream, and 
chose 'another vocation. Some affirmed that the 
proofs against Christianity were irrefutable. The 
anonymity of the writer heightened the excitement. 
Conjectures were made as to who the author might 
be ; Mendelssohn's name was publicly mentioned. 
Only a few knew that this blow had been struck by 
Reirnarus, revered by theologians, too. The anger 
of the zealots was discharged upon the publisher, 
Lessing. He was attacked by all parties, and had 
no companion in arms. His Jewish friend would 
willingly have hastened to his assistance, but how 
could he mix himself up in these domestic squabbles 
of the Christians ? Among the numerous slanders 
circulated by the orthodox about Lessing it was 
said that the wealthy Jewish community of Amster- 
dam had paid him one thousand ducats for the 
publication of the \Volfenbiittel fragments. Accus- 
tomed to single-handed combat against want of 
taste and reason, Lessing was man enough to 
protect himself. It was a goodly sight to behold 
this giant in the fray, dealing crushing strokes 
with light banter and graceful skill. He defeated 
his enemies one after the other, especially one who 
was the type of blindly credulous, arrogant, and 
malicious orthodoxy, the minister Goze in Hamburg. 
As his pigmy opponents could not overcome this 
Hercules by literary skill, they summoned to their 
aid the secular arm. Lessing's productions were 
forbidden and confiscated, he was compelled to 
deliver up the manuscripts of the "Fragments/ 5 
his freedom from censorship was withdrawn, and 
he was expected not to write any more upon this 
subject ( 1 778). He struggled against these violent 
proceedings, but he was vulnerable in one point. 
The greatest man whom Germany had hitherto 


produced was without means, and his position as 
librarian being imperiled, he was obliged to seek 
for other means of support. During one of his 
sleepless nights (August 10, 1/78), a plan struck 
him which would simultaneously relieve him from 
pecuniary embarrassments and inflict a worse blow 
than ten " Fragments " upon the Lutheran theolo- 
gians. They thundered against him from their 
church pulpits ; he would try to answer them from 
his theatre pulpit. The latest, most mature, and 
most perfect offspring of his Muse, " Nathan the 
Wise," should be his avenger. Lessing had carried 
this idea in his mind for several years ; but he could 
not have executed it at a more favorable time. 

To the annoyance of the pious Christians "who, 
with all their bigotry, uncharitableness, and desire 
for persecution, laid claim to every virtue on account 
of their belief in Jesus, and denounced the Jews, 
one and all, as outcasts, Lessing represented a 
Jew as the immaculate ideal of virtue, wisdom, 
and conscientiousness. This ideal he had found 
embodied in Moses Mendelssohn. He illumined 
him and the greatness of his character by the bright 
light of theatrical effects, and impressed the stamp 
of eternity upon him by his immortal verses. The 
chief hero of Lessing's drama is a sage and a 
merchant, like Mendelssohn, "as good as he is 
clever, and as clever as he is wise." His nation 
honors him as a prince, and though it calls him the 
wise Nathan, he was above all things good : 

" The law commandeth mercy, not compliance. 
And thus for mercy's sake he's uncomplying : 
.... How free from prejudice his lofty soul 
His heart to every virtue how unlocked 
With every lovely feeling how familiar .... 
.... what a Jew is he ! yet wishes 
Only to pass as a Jew." 

A son of Judaism, Nathan had elevated himself 
to the highest level of humane feeling and charitable- 
ness, for such his Law prescribed. In a fanatical 


massacre by Crusaders, ferocious Christians had 
slaughtered all the Jews in Jerusalem, with their 
wives and children, and his beloved wife and seven 
hopeful sons had been burnt. At first he raged, 
and murmured against fate, but anon he spake with 
the patience of Job : 

41 This also WLS God's decree : So be it ! " 

In his terrible grief a mounted soldier brought 
him a young, tender Christian child, an orphan girl, 
and Nathan took it, bore it to his couch, kissed it, 
flung himself upon his knees, and thanked God that 
the lost seven had been replaced by at least one. 
This Christian maiden he loved with all the warmth 
of a fatherly heart, and educated her in a strictly 
conscientious manner. Xot one religion in pre- 
ference to another, still less his own, did he instil 
into the young soul of Recha, or Blanche, but only 
the doctrines of pure fear of God, ideal virtue, and 
morality. Such was the representative of Judaism. 

How did the representative of Christianity 
behave? The Patriarch of Jerusalem, who, with 
his church, was tolerated in the Mahometan city by 
the magnanimous Sultan Saladin, by virtue of a 
solemnly ratified treaty, meditates treacherous plans 
against the sultan, concocts intrigues against him : 

" But what is villainy in human eyes 
May, in the sight of God, the patriarch thinks, 
Not be villainy." 

For Xathan, he desires to kindle a pyre, because 
he has fostered, loved, and raised to a lovely, 
spiritual maiden, a forsaken Christian child. With- 
out the compassion of the Jew, the child would have 
perished : 

" That's nothing : The Jew must still be burnt." 

Daya, another representative of Church Chris- 
tianity, who knows Recha's Christian origin, has 
misgivings when she sees the Christian child bask- 


ing in the warm love of a Jew. She is won over 
from these scruples by costly presents, but she still 
contemplates depriving Nathan of the most precious 
object to which his soul clings, even though danger 
should thereby befall him. 

The Templar, Leon of Filnek, represents yet 
another phase of Christianity. A soldier and at the 
same time a cleric, who, spared by Saladin although 
he had broken his word, rescues Recha, the sup- 
posed Jewish maiden ; he behaves with Christian 
insolence towards Nathan, speaking roughly and 
harshly to him, whilst the latter is pouring forth 
heartfelt gratitude for the rescue of his adopted 
daughter. Then, gradually, through the wonderful 
power of love, the Templar lays aside the coarse, 
hateful garb of Christian prejudice. In his veins 
there flows Mahometan blood. Only the holy sim- 
plicity of the friar Bonafides combines human kind- 
ness with monastic ecclesiasticism ; but he knows 
only one duty obedience and at the command of 
the fanatically cruel Patriarch would commit the 
most horrible crimes. 

These lessons Lessing preached from his theatre 
pulpit to the obdurate minds of the followers of 
Christ. The wise Jew, Nathan Mendelssohn 
has arrived at the highest level of human sympathy ; 
while the best Christian, the Templar, every culti- 
vated Christian the Nicolais, the Abts, the Herd- 
ers have yet to free themselves from their thick- 
skinned prejudices, to attain to that height. It is a 
delusion to claim the possession of the one true re- 
ligion and the only means of salvation. Who pos- 
sesses the real ring? How can the real one be 
detected from the false ? Only by meekness, heart- 
felt tolerance, true benevolence, and most fervent 
devotion to God ; in short, by all those qualities 
which the official Christianity of the time did not 
display, and which were perfectly realized in Men- 


In every way Leasing scourged fossilized, perse- 
cuting Christianity, and glorified Judaism through 
its chief representative. As if this splendid drama, 
the beautiful first-fruits of German poetry, was to 
belong to the Jews, although given to the world by 
a Christian poet, a son of Israel aided its production. 
Lessing, besieged by theological foes, and fighting 
against dire necessity, would not have been able to 
complete it, if, during its composition, he had not 
been enabled to live without anxiety. He required 
a loan, and found no helper among the Christians. 
Moses Wessely, in Hamburg, the brother of the 
neo-Hebraic poet, Xaphtali Wessely, who afterwards 
made a name for himself in Jewish history, advanced 
the desired sum, although he was not a wealthy Jew, 
and only wished to have the honor of possessing 
something in Lessing's handwriting^ 

Lessing had not been wrong in thinking that this 
drama would vex pious Christians much more than 
ten controversial pamphlets against Goze. As soon 
as it appeared (spring, 1779), intense wrath was felt 
against the poet, as if he had degraded Christianity. 
The " Fragments " and his polemics against Goze 
had not made him so many enemies as "Nathan." 
Even his friends greeted him coldly, shunned him, 
excluded him from the social reunions he loved, and 
left him to the persecution of his adversaries. 
Through this silent excommunication he felt himself 
aggrieved, lost more and more of his bright humor 
and elasticity of spirit, and became wearied, down- 
cast, and almost stupefied. The treatment of pious 
Christians terribly embittered the last year of his 
life. He died in vigorous manhood like an aged 
man, a martyr to his love of truth. But his soul- 
conquering voice made itself heard on behalf of tol- 
erance, and gradually softened the discordant notes 
of hatred and prejudice. In spite of the ban placed 
upon 4 * Nathan/' as well as upon its author, both in 
Protestant and Catholic countries, this drama be- 


came one of the most popular in German poetry, 
and as often as the verses inspired by conviction 
resound from the stage, they seize upon the hearts 
of the audience, loosening the links of the chain of 
Jew-hatred in the minds of Germans, who find it 
most difficult to throw off its shackles. " Nathan " 
made an impression on the mind of the German 
people, which, despite unfavorable circumstances, 
has not been obliterated. Twenty years before, 
when Lessing produced his first drama of "The 
Jews," an arrogant theologian censured it, because 
it was altogether too improbable that among a 
people like the Jews, so noble a character could 
ever be formed. At the appearance of " Nathan" 
no reader thought that a noble Jew was possible. 
Even the most stubborn dared not assert so mon- 
strous an absurdity. The Jewish ideal sage was a 
reality, and lived in Berlin, an ornament not alone 
to the Jews, but to the German nation. Without 
Mendelssohn, the drama of "Nathan" would not 
have been written, just as without Lessing's friend- 
ship Mendelssohn would not have become what he 
did to German literature and the Jewish world. 
The cordiality of the intimacy between these two 
friends showed itself after Lessing's death. His 
brothers and friends, who only after his demise 
realized his greatness, turned, in the anguish of 
their loss, to Mendelssohn, as if it were natural that 
he should be the chief mourner. And in very sooth 
he was ; none of his associates preserved Lessing's 
memory with so sorrowful a remembrance and 
religious a reverence. He was beyond all things 
solicitous to protect his former friend against mis- 
apprehension and slander. 

As Mendelssohn, without knowing or desiring it, 
stimulated Lessing to create an ideal, and through 
him helped to dispel the bias against Jews, so at 
the same time, without aiming at it, he inaugurated 
the spiritual regeneration of his race. The Bible, 


especially the Pentateuch the all in all of the 
Jews although very many knew it by heart, had 
become as strange to them, as any unintelligible 
book. Rabbinical and Kabbalistic expositors had 
so distorted the simple biblical sense of the words, 
that even-thing was found in it except the actual 

Polish school-masters there were no others 
with rod and angry gestures, instructed Jewish boys 
in tender youth to discover the most absurd perver- 
sities in the Holy Book, translating it into their 
hateful jargon, and so confusing the text with their 
own translation, that it seemed as if Moses had 
spoken in the barbarous dialect of Polish Jews. 

The neglect of all secular knowledge, which in- 
creased with every century, had reached such a 
pitch that ever}* nonsensical oddity, even blasphemy, 
was subtly read into the verses of Scripture. What 
had been intended as a comfort to the soul was 
changed into a poison. Mendelssohn acutely felt 
this ignorance and wresting of Bible words, for he 
had arrived at the enlightened view that Holy Writ 
does not contain u that which Jews and Christians 
believe they can find therein," and that a good, sim- 
ple translation would be an important step towards 
the promotion of culture among Jews. But in his 
modesty and diffidence it did not occur to him to 
employ these means to educate his brethren. He 
compiled a translation of the Pentateuch for his 
children, to give them a thorough education and to 
introduce the word of God to them in an undisfig- 
ured form, without troubling (as he observed) 
44 whether they would continue to be compelled, in 
Saxe-Gotha, on every journey, to pay for their Jew- 
ish heads at a game of dice, or to tell the story of 
the three rings to every petty ruler." It was only 
at the urgent request of a man whose word carried 
weight with Mendelssohn, that he decided to pub- 
lish his translation of the Pentateuch into German 


(in Jewish-German characters) for Jewish readers. 
It cost him an effort, however, to attach his name 
to it. 

He knew his Jewish public too well not to under- 
stand that the translation, however excellently it 
might be done, would meet with little approval, un- 
less it were accompanied by a Hebrew exposition. 
Of \vhat value to the depraved taste of Jewish 
readers was a book without a commentary? From 
time immemorial, since commentaries and super- 
commentaries had come into existence, these had 
been much more admired than the most beautiful 
text. Mendelssohn, therefore, obtained the assist- 
ance of an educated Pole, named Solomon Dubno, 
who, a praiseworthy exception to his countrymen, 
was thoroughly acquainted with Hebrew grammar, 
to undertake the composition of a running com- 
mentary. The work was begun by securing the 
necessary subscribers, without whom no book could 
at that time be issued. It became apparent that 
Mendelssohn had already many supporters and ad- 
mirers among his brethren, within and beyond Ger- 
many. His undertaking, which was to remove from 
the Jews the reproach of ignorance of their own lit- 
erature, and of speaking a corrupt language, was 
hailed with joy. Most of the subscribers came from 
Berlin and Mendelssohn's native town, Dessau, 
which was indeed proud of him. From Poland also 
orders for the Germanized "Torah" arrived, mostly 
from Wilna, where Elijah Wilna, to a certain extent 
a liberal thinker, and the visionary perversities of 
the New-Chassidim had drawn attention to the 
Holy Scriptures. As a sign of the times, it may 
also be noticed that the translation was purchased 
by Christians, professors, pastors, court preachers, 
consistorial councilors, court councilors, and the 
nobility. Mendelssohn's Christian friends were, 
indeed, extraordinarily active in promoting his work. 
Eliza Reimarus, Lessing's noble friend, even col- 
lected subscriptions. 


Glacl as were Mendelssohn's admirers to receive 
the news of a Pentateuch translation from his hand, 
so disturbed were the rigid adherents to antiquity 
and obsolete habit- They felt vividly, without being 
able to think it out clearly, that the old times, with 
their ingenuous credulity which regarded every- 
thing with unquestioned faith as an emanation from 
a Divine source would now sink into the grave. 

Xo sooner was a specimen of the translation 
published, than the rabbis of the old school were 
prejudiced against it, and planned how to keep the 
enemy from the house of Jacob. To these oppo- 
nents' of Mendelssohn's enterprise belonged men 
who brought honor upon Judaism, not alone by 
their Rabbinical scholarship and keen intellects, but 
also by their nobility of character. There were es- 
pecially three men, Poles by birth, who had as little 
appreciation of the innovations of the times as of 
beauty of form and purity of speech. One of them, 
Ezekiel Landau (chief rabbi of Prague, from the 
year 1752; died in 17931, enjoyed great respect 
both within and outside his community. He was a 
clever man, and learned In time to swim with the 
tide. The second, Raphael Cohen, the grandfather 
of Riesser (born 1722, died 1803), who had emi- 
grated from Poland, and had been called from Posen 
to the rabbinate of the three communities of Ham- 
burg, Altona, and Wandsbeck, was a firm, decided 
character, without guile or duplicity, who as judge 
rneted out justice without respect to persons, con- 
sidering justice the support of God's throne. The 
third and youngest was Hirsch Janow, a son-in-law 
of Raphael Cohen, who, on account of his profound 
acumen in Talmudical discussions, was called the 
"keen scholar" (born 1750, died 1785). His acute 
mind was equally versed in the intricate problems 
of mathematics as in those of the Talmud. He was 
thoroughly unselfish, the trifling income that he re- 
ceived from the impoverished community of Posen 


he gave away to the unfortunate ; he distributed 
alms with open-handed benevolence, and without 
asking questions whether the recipients were ortho- 
dox or heretics, whilst he himself starved. He con- 
tracted debts to save the needy from misery. 
Solomon Maimon, a deep thinker, who had oppor- 
tunities of knowing men from their worst side, 
called this rabbi of Posen and Furth u a godly man," 
an epithet not to be considered an exaggeration 
from such lips. To these three rabbis a fourth kin- 
dred spirit may be added, Phineas Levi Hurwitz 
(born 1/40; died 1802), rabbi of Frankfort-on-the- 
Main, also a Pole, educated in the Chassidean 
school. These men, and others who thought like 
them, and who regarded the perusal of a German 
book as a grievous sin, from their point of view 
were right in opposing Mendelssohn's innovation. 
They perceived that the Jewish youth would learn 
the German language from the Mendelssohn trans- 
lation more than an understanding of the "Torah"; 
that the former would strongly tend to become the 
chief object of study ; the attention to Holy Writ 
would degenerate into an unimportant secondary 
matter, whilst the study of the Talmud would be 
completely suppressed. Though Mendelssohn him- 
self enjo} r ed good repute from a religious point of 
view, his adherents and supporters were not invar- 
iably free from reproach. Unworthy men, who had 
broken with Judaism, and conceitedly termed them- 
selves Mendelssohnians, were energetic in advanc- 
ing the sale of the translation, and thus brought it 
into suspicion with the rigidly orthodox party. 

Raphael Cohen, of Hamburg, a man of hasty 
temper, was the most zealous agitator against the 
German version of the Bible. But as Mendelssohn 
had relatives on his wife's side in this town, and 
also many admirers, no action could be taken 
against him there or in Prague, where there were 
freethinkers among the Jews. Furth, therefore, 


was looked upon as the fittest place whence the in- 
terdict (about June, 1779) against "the German 
Pentateuch of Moses of Dessau" should be 
launched. All true to Judaism were forbidden, un- 
der penalty of excommunication, to use this trans- 

Meanwhile the conflict between the old and the 
new Judaism was conducted with calmness, and no 
violent symptoms showed themselves. If Jacob 
Emden had been alive, the contest would have raged 
more fiercely, and evoked more disturbance. Men- 
delssohn was too unselfish, too gentle and philoso- 
phically tranquil to grow excited on hearing of the 
ban against his undertaking, or to solicit the aid of 
his Christian friends of high rank in silencing his 
opponents. He was prepared for opposition. 
" As soon as I yielded to Dubno to have my trans- 
lation printed, I placed my soul in my hands, raised 
my eyes to the mountains, and gave my back to the 
smiters." He regarded the play of human passions 
and excessive ardor for religion as natural phenom- 
ena, which demanded quiet observation. He did 
not wish to disturb this peaceful observation by ex- 
ternal influence, by threats and prohibitions, or by 
the interference of the temporal power. " Perhaps 
a little excitement serves the best interests of the 
enterprise nearest to my heart." He suggested 
that if his version had been received without oppo- 
sition, its superfluity would have been proved. 
"The more the so-called wise men of the day ob- 
ject to it, the more necessary it is. At first, I only 
intended it for ordinary people, but now I find that 
it is much more needful for rabbis." On the part of 
his opponents, however, no decided efforts were 
made to suppress his translation, which appeared 
to them so dangerous, or to denounce its author. 
Only in certain Polish towns, such as Posen and 
Lissa, it was forbidden, and it is said to have been 
publicly committed to the flames. Violent action 



was to be feared only from the indiscreet, resolute 
Rabbi Raphael Cohen. He seems, however, to 
have delayed action until the whole appeared, in 
order to obtain proofs of deserved condemnation. 
Mendelssohn, therefore, sought help to counteract 
his zeal. He prevailed upon his friend, Augustus 
von Hennigs, Danish state councilor and brother- 
in-law of his intimate friend, Eliza Reimarus, to try 
to induce the king of Denmark and certain courtiers 
to become subscribers to the work; this would 
quench the ardor of the zealot. Hennigs, a man of 
hasty action, forthwith turned to the Danish minis- 
ter, Von Guldberg, to fulfill the request of Mendels- 
sohn. To his astonishment and Mendelssohn's, he 
received an insulting reply, to the effect that the 
king and his illustrious brothers were prepared to 
subscribe if the minister could assure them that the 
translation contained nothing against the inspira- 
tion and truth of the Holy Scriptures, so that the 
Jews might not afterwards say "that Moses Men- 
delssohn was an adherent to the (ill-famed) religion 
of Berlin." 

This " Berlin religion " was at the time the terror 
of the orthodox, both in the Church and the Syna- 
gogue, and it cannot be said to have been an idle 
fear. To keep at a distance this scoffing tendency 
against religion, over-zealous rabbis tried to block 
every possible avenue of approach to the houses of 
the Jews. Events of the immediate future proved 
that the rabbis were not pursuing a phantom. 
Mendelssohn, in his innocent piety, did not recog- 
nize the enemy, although it passed to and fro 
through his own house. At length, the interdict 
against Mendelssohn's translation of the Pentateuch 
was promulgated by Raphael Cohen (July i/th); it 
was directed against all Jews who read the new 
version. The author himself was not excommuni- 
cated, either out of consideration for his prominence, 
or from weakness and half-heartedness. However, 


before the blow fell, Mendelssohn had warded off 
its consequences. He persuaded Yon Hennigs that 
he need have no scruples about obtaining; the king's 
subscription for the translation, and it was done. 
At the head of the list of contributors stood the 
names of King Christian of Denmark and the Crown 
Prince. By this means Raphael Cohen was 
effectually foiled in his endeavors to condemn and 
destroy a work which he regarded as heretical. 

His adversaries nevertheless struck Mendelssohn 
a blow, to hinder the completion of the translation. 
They succeeded in alienating Solomon Dubno, his 
right-hand man, which caused Mendelssohn serious 
perplexity. That his work might not remain unfin- 
ished, he 'had to undertake the commentary to the 
Pentateuch himself, but finding the work beyond his 
strength he was obliged to seek for assistants^ In 
Wessely he found a co-operator of similar dispo- 
sition to his own ; but he did not care to undertake 
the whole burden, and thus Mendelssohn was com- 
pelled to entrust a portion to Herz Homberg, his 
son's tutor, and to another Pole, Aaron Jaroslav. 
The former was not altogether a congenial asso- 
ciate. He knew that Homberg in his heart was 
estranged from Judaism, and that he would not 
execute the holy work according to his method and 
as a sacred duty, as he himself felt it to be. But he 
had no alternative. Owing to Homberg's partici- 
pation in the work, the translation, finished in 1783, 
was discredited by the orthodox ; and they desired 
to exclude it altogether from Jewish houses. 

This severity roused opposition. Forbidden fruit 
tastes sweet. Youthful students of the Talmud 
seized upon the German translation behind the 
backs of their masters, who depreciated the new in- 
fluence, and in secret learned at once the most 
elementary and the most sublime lessons the Ger- 
man language and the philosophy of religion, 
Hebrew grammar and poetry- A new view of the 


world was opened to them. The Hebrew com- 
mentary served as a guide to a proper understand- 
ing of the translation. As if touched by a magic 
wand, the Talmud students, fossils of the musty 
schoolhouses, were transfigured, and upon the wings 
of the intellect they soared above the gloomy present, 
and took their flight heavenwards. An insatiable 
desire for knowledge took possession of them ; no 
territory, however dark, remained inaccessible to 
them. The acumen, quick comprehension, and pro- 
found penetrativeness, which these youths had ac- 
quired in their close study of the Talmud, rendered 
it easy for them to take their position in the newly- 
discovered world. Thousands of Talmud students 
from the great schools of Hamburg, Prague, Nikols- 
burg, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Furth, and even from 
Poland, became little Mendelssohns ; many of them 
eloquent, profound thinkers. With them Judaism 
renewed its youth. All who, towards the end of the 
eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, were in various ways public workers, had up 
to a certain period in their lives been one-sided 
Talmudists, and needed the inspiration of Mendels- 
sohn's example to become exponents and promoters 
of culture among Jews. In a very short time a 
numerous band of Jewish authors arose, who wrote 
in a clear Hebrew or German style upon matters 
of which shortly before they had had no knowledge. 
The Mendelssohn translation speedily resulted in a 
veritable renaissance of the Jews. They found their 
level in European civilization more quickly than the 
Germans, and what should not be overlooked 
Talmudic schooling had sharpened their intelligence. 
Mendelssohn's translation of the Pentateuch, to- 
gether with his paraphrase of the Psalms, has pro- 
duced more good than that of Luther, because In- 
stead of fossilizing, it animated the mind. The inner 
freedom of the Jews, as has been said, dates from 
this translation. 


The beginning of the outward liberation of the 
Jews from the cruel bondage of thousands of years 
was also connected with [Mendelssohn's name, and 
like his activity for their internal freedom was un- 
conscious, without violence or calculation. It seems 
a miracle, though no marvelous occurrence accom- 
panied it. It secured to the Jews two advocates, 
than whom none more zealous, none warmer could 
be desired : these were Lessing and Dohm. 

Since the middle of the eighteenth century the 
attention of the cultured world had been directed 
towards the Jews without any action on their part. 
Montesquieu, the first to penetrate to the profound 
depths of human laws and reveal their spirit, was 
also the first to raise his weighty voice against the 
barbarous treatment of the Jews. In his widely-read, 
suggestive work, "Spirit of the Laws/' he had dem- 
onstrated, with convincing arguments, the harm that 
the ill-treatment of the Jews had caused to states, 
and branded the cruelty of the Inquisition with an 
ineradicable stigma- The piercing cry of agony of 
a tortured Marrano at sight of a stake prepared for 
a u judalzing" maiden of eighteen years of age in 
Lisbon had aroused Montesquieu, and the echo of 
his voice resounded throughout Europe. 

"You Christians complain that the Emperor of China roasts all 
Christians in his dominions over a slow fire. You behave much 
worse towards Jews, because they do not believe as you do. If any 
of our descendants should ever venture to say that the nations of 
Europe were cultured, your example will be adduced to prove that 
they were barbarians. The picture that they will draw of you will 
certainly stain your age, and spread abroad hatred of all your con- 

Montesquieu had rediscovered the true idea of 
justice, \vhich mankind had lost. But how difficult 
was it to cause this idea to be fully recognized with 
reference to Jews ! 

Two events had brought the Jews, their concerns, 
their present, and their past before public notice : 
their demand for a legal standing in England, and 


Voltaire's attacks upon them. In England, where 
a century before they had, as it were, crept in, they 
formed a separate community, especially in the cap- 
ital, without being tolerated or recognized by law. 
They were regarded as foreigners as Spaniards, 
Portuguese, Dutchmen, or Germans, and had to pay 
the alien duty, However, the authorities, especially 
the judges, showed regard for the Jewish belief; for 
instance, they did not summon Jewish witnesses 
on the Sabbath. After the Jews settled in the 
American colonies of England had been naturalized, 
a bill was presented in Parliament by merchants 
and manufacturers, Jews and their friends, to be 
sure, begging that they be treated as natives of 
England, without being compelled to obtain civil 
rights by taking the sacrament, as the law pre- 
scribed. Pelham, the minister, supported the peti- 
tion, and pointed out the advantages that would ac- 
crue to the country by the large capital of the Por- 
tuguese Jews and their warm attachment to England. 
By their opponents, however, partly self-interest, 
partly religious prejudices were brought to bear 
against them. It was urged that, placed on an equal 
footing with English citizens, the Jews would acquire 
the whole wealth of the kingdom, would obtain pos- 
session of all the landed property, and disinherit 
Christians : the latter would be their slaves, and the 
Jews would choose their own rulers and kings. 
Orthodox literalists argued that according to Chris- 
tian prophecies they were to remain without a home 
until gathered to the land of their fathers. Sur- 
prisingly enough, a bill was passed by the Upper 
House permitting Jews who had resided in England 
or Ireland for three consecutive years to be natural- 
ized ; but they were not to occupy any secular or 
clerical office, nor to receive the Parliamentary fran- 
chise. The lords and the bishops, then, were not 
opposed to the Jews. The majority of the Lower 
House also agreed to the bill, and George II ratified 


it (March, 175.3). Was ^ decision of the Three 
Estates really the expression of the majority of the 
nation ? This at once became doubtful : impreca- 
tions were immediately thundered from pulpits, 
guilds, and the taverns against the ministry which 
had urged the Naturalization Act for Jews. In our 
days it seems hardly credible that the London mer- 
chants should have feared the ruin of their trade by 
the influx of Jewish capitalists. Deacon Josiah 
Tucker, who took the part of the Jews, and defended 
the Naturalization Act, was attacked by the oppo- 
sition in Parliament, in the newspapers, and in 
pamphlets, and his effigy, together with his defense 
of the Jews, was burnt at Bristol. To the vexation 
of the liberal-minded, the ministry were weak 
enough to yield to the clamor of the populace arising 
from mercantile jealousy and fanatical intolerance, 
and to annul their own work (i 754) " because it had 
provoked displeasure, and the minds of many loyal 
subjects had been disquieted thereby/* For, even 
the most violent enemies of the act could not impute 
evil to the Jews of England ; they created a good 
impression upon Englishmen by their riches,^ ac- 
cumulated without usury, and by their noble bearing. 
Public opinion warmly sided with them and their 
claims for civil equality, and if, for the moment, 
these were disregarded, yet no unfavorable result 
ensued. , 

The second occurrence, although originating in a 
single person, roused even more attention than the 
action of the English Parliament towards the Jews. 
This person was Arouet de Voltaire, king in the 
domain of literature in the eighteenth century, who 
with his demoniacal laughter blew down like a house 
of cards the stronghold of the Middle Ages. He, 
who believed neither in Providence nor in the moral 
progress of mankind, was a mighty instrument of 
history in the advancement of progress. Voltaire 
in his writings an entrancing wizard, a sage, in his 


life a fool, the slave of base passions picked a 
quarrel with the Jews, and sneered at them and their 
past. His hostility arose from personal ill-humor 
and irritability. He maintained that during his stay 
in London he lost eighty per cent of a loan of 
25,000 francs, through the bankruptcy of a Jewish 
capitalist named Medina. He cannot, however, 
always be believed. 

" Medina told me that he was not to blame for his bankruptcy : 
that he was unfortunate, that he had never been a son of Belial. 
He moved me, I embraced him, \ve praised God together, and I lost 
my money. I have never hated the Jewish nation ; I hate nobody." 

Yet, a low-minded Harpagon, who clung to his 
money, Voltaire, on account of this large or small 
loss, hated not only this Jew, but all Jews on earth. 
A second incident excited him still more against 
them. When' Voltaire was in Berlin and Potsdam 
as court poet, literary mentor, and attendant of 
King Frederick, who both admired and detested 
this diabolical genius, he gave a filthy commission 
to a Jewish jeweler, named Hirsch, or Hirschel 
(1750), which he afterwards, at the instigation of a 
rival in the trade, named Ephraim Veitel, wished to 
withdraw. Friction arose between Voltaire and 
Hirschel, until some arrangement was made, which 
the former afterwards desired to evade. In a word, 
Voltaire practiced a series of mean tricks upon his 
Jewish tradesman: cheated him about some dia- 
monds, abused him, lied, forged documents, and 
acted as if he were the injured party. At length a 
complicated lawsuit sprang from these proceedings. 
King Frederick, who had obtained information of 
all this from the legal documents, and from a pam- 
phlet, written ostensibly by Hirsch, in reality by 
Voltaire's enemies, was highly enraged with the 
poet and philosopher scamp. He resolved to ban- 
ish him from Prussia, and wrote against him a com- 
.edy in French verse, called " Tantalus in the Law- 
suit." Voltaire's quarrel with the Prussian Jew 


created a sensation, and provided ample material 
for the mischievous delight of his opponents. 

Next to avarice, revenge was a prominent feat- 
ure in his character. It was too trifling for Voltaire 
to avenge himself upon the individual Jew who had 
contributed to his humiliation ; he determined to 
make the whole Jewish nation feel his hatred. 
Whenever he had an opportunity of speaking of 
Judaism or Jews, he bespattered the Jews of the 
past and the present with his obscene satire. ^ This 
accorded with his method of warfare. Christianity, 
which he thoroughly hated and despised, could not 
be attacked openly without rendering the aggressor 
liable to severe punishment. Judaism, the parent 
of Christianity, therefore served as the target, 
against which he hurled his elegant, lightly bran- 
dished, but venomous darts. In one of his essays 
particularly he poured forth his gall against Jews 
and Judaism. 

This partial and superficial estimate of the Jews, 
this summary judgment of a whole people, and a 
history of a thousand years, irritated many truth- 
loving men ; but no one dared provoke a quarrel 
with so dreaded an antagonist as Voltaire. It re- 
quired a bold spirit, but it was hazarded by a cul- 
tured Jew, named Isaac Pinto, more from skillfully- 
calculated motives than from indignation at Voltaire's 
baseless defamation. Pinto (born In Bordeaux, 
1715; died in Amsterdam, 1787) belonged to a 
Portuguese Marrano family, was rich, cultivated, 
noble, and disinterested in his own affairs ; but suf- 
fered from pardonable egoism, namely, on behalf 
of the community. After leaving Bordeaux he set- 
tled in Amsterdam, where he not only served the 
Portuguese community, but also advanced large 
sums of money to the government of Holland, and 
therefore held an honorable position. He always 
took warm interest in the congregation in which 
he had been born, and assisted it by word and 


deed. But his heart was most devoted to the Por- 
tuguese Jews, his brethren by race and speech ; on 
the other hand, he was indifferent and cold towards 
the Jews of the German and Polish tongues; he 
looked down upon them with disdainful pride, as 
Christians of rank upon lowly Jews. Nobility of 
mind and pride of race were intimately combined in 
Pinto. In certain unpleasant matters in which the 
Portuguese community of Bordeaux had become 
entangled, he displayed, on the one hand, ardent 
zeal, on the other, hardness of heart. In this pros- 
perous commercial town, since the middle of the 
sixteenth century, there had flourished a congrega- 
tion of fugitive Marranos, who had fled from the 
prisons and the autos-da-fe of the Spanish and Por- 
tuguese Inquisition* These refugees had brought 
considerable capital and an enterprising spirit, and 
thus secured right of residence and certain privil- 
eges, but only under the name of new-Christians or 
Portuguese merchants. For a time they were 
forced to undergo the hypocrisy of having their 
marriages solemnized in the churches. Their num- 
bers gradually increased; in two centuries (1550 
1750) the congregation of Bordeaux had grown to 
200 families, or 500 souls. The majority of the 
Portuguese Jews, or new-Christians, of Bordeaux, 
kept large banking-houses, engaged in the manu- 
facture of arms, equipped ships, or undertook trans- 
marine business with French colonies. To their 
importance as merchants and ship-owners they 
united staunch uprightness, blameless honesty in 
business, liberality towards Jews and non-Jews, and 
the dignity which they had brought from the Pyre- 
nean peninsula, their unnatural mother-country. 
Thus they gained respect and distinction among 
the Christian inhabitants of Bordeaux, and the 
French court as well as the high officials connived 
at their presence, and gradually came to recognize 
them as Jews. The important mercantile town also 


attracted German Jews from Alsace, and French 
Jews from Avignon, under papal government, who 
obtained the right to settle by paying large sums 
of money. The Portuguese Jews were jealous ; 
they feared that "they would be placed on a level 
with these co-religionists, who were little educated, 
and engaged in petty trading or monetary trans- 
actions, and that they would lose their honorable 
reputation. Induced by these selfish motives they 
exerted themselves to have the immigrant German 
and Avignon Jews expelled from the town, by ap- 
pealing to the old edict that Jews might not dwell 
in France. But the exiles contrived to gain the 
protection of influential persons at court, and thus 
obtained the privilege of sojourn. Through the 
connivance of the authorities, 152 foreign Jews had 
already flocked to Bordeaux, several of whom had 
powerful friends. This was a thorn in the side of 
the Portuguese, and to hinder the influx of stran- 
gers, they passed (1760) an illiberal communal law 
against their foreign co-religionists. They branded 
even' foreign Jew not of Portuguese origin as a 
vagrant and a beggar, and as a burden to the 
wealthy. They calumniated the strangers, assert- 
ing that they followed dishonorable, fraudulent oc- 
cupations, and thereby predisposed the citizens and 
authorities against them. According to their pro- 
posal, Portuguese Jews, or their council, should be 
vested with the right to expel the foreign Jews, or 
"vagrants/ 1 from the town within three days. This 
cruel and heartless statute had to be confirmed by 
King Louis XV. It was not difficult to obtain from 
this monarch, who was ruled by his wives and his 
courtiers, the most inhuman petitions. A friend 
and kinsman of Isaac Pinto undertook to get the 
sanction of the court for this statute. 

This was Jacob Rodrigues Pereira (born in Spain, 
1715; died in Paris, 1 780), grandfather of the fam- 
ous and enterprising Emile and Isaac Pereira, a 


man of talent and noble character, and an artist of a 
peculiar kind, who had obtained wide renown. He 
had invented a sign language for the deaf and 
dumb, and taught these unfortunate people a means 
of expressing their thoughts. As a Marrano, he 
had taught the deaf and dumb in" Spain. Love for 
the religion of his ancestors, or hatred of the blood- 
thirsty Catholic Church impelled him to leave the 
land of the Inquisition (about 1734), and, together 
with his mother and sister, to emigrate to Bor- 
deaux. Here, even before Abbe de 1'Epee, he so 
thoroughly verified his theory for the instruction of 
those born dumb, in a specially appointed school, 
that the king conferred a reward, and the first men 
of science D' Alembert, Buffon, Diderot, and Rous- 
seau lavished praises upon him. Pereira after- 
wards became royal interpreter and member of the 
Royal Society in London. The Portuguese com- 
munity of Bordeaux appointed him their represen- 
tative in Paris, to ventilate their complaints and 
accomplish their ends. Moved \vith sympathy for 
the unfortunate, he was yet so filled with communal 
egoism, ^ that he did not hesitate to inflict injury 
upon his German and Avignon co-religionists. 
The commission to secure from Louis XV the rati- 
fication of the proposed statute, he carried out but 
too conscientiously. But in the disorderly govern- 
ment of this king and his court there was a vast 
difference between the passing and the administer- 
ing of a law. The higher officials were able to cir- 
cumvent any law or defer its execution. The ex- 
pulsion of the Jews of German and Avignon origin 
from Bordeaux lay in the hands of the governor, 
the Due de Richelieu. Isaac Pinto, who was on in- 
timate terms with him, was able to win his support. 
Richelieu issued an urgent command (November, 
1761) that within two weeks all foreign Jews should 
be banished from Bordeaux. Exception was made 
only in favor of two old men and women whom the 


hardships of the expulsion would have killed, and 
of a man who had been of service to the town 
(Jacob de Perpignan). All the rest were plunged 
into unavoidable distress, as it was forbidden to 
Jews to settle anywhere in France, and the districts 
and towns where Jews already dwelt admitted no 
new-comers. What a difference between the Ger- 
man Jew Moses Mendelssohn and the Portuguese 
Jews Isaac Pinto and Rodrigues Pereira, who in 
their time were ranked side by side ! The former 
did not cease his efforts, until by his influence he 
brought help to his unhappy brethren, or at least 
offered them comfort. For the Jews in Switzerland, 
who were tolerated only in two small towns, and 
even there were so enslaved that they must have 
died out, Mendelssohn procured some alleviation 
through his opponent Lavater. Several hundred 
Jews were about to be expelled from Dresden, be- 
cause they could not pay the poll-tax laid upon 
them. Through Mendelssohn's intercession with 
one of his numerous admirers, Cabinet Councilor 
Von Ferber, the unfortunate people obtained per- 
mission to remain in Dresden. To a Jewish Tal- 
mudical scholar unjustly suspected of theft and 
imprisoned in Leipsic, Mendelssohn cleverly con- 
trived to send a letter of consolation, whereby 
he gained his freedom. Isaac Pinto and Jacob 
Pereira, on the other hand, were zealous in 
bringing about the expulsion of their brethren by 
race and religion, which Mendelssohn considered 
the hardest punishment of the Jews, " equal to an- 
nihilation from the face of God's earth, where 
armed prejudice repulses them at every frontier." 

The cruel proceedings of the Portuguese Jews 
against their brethren in Bordeaux made a great 
stir. If Jews might not tarry in France, why should 
those of Portuguese tongue be tolerated? The 
latter, therefore, saw themselves compelled to put 
themselves in a favorable light, and requested Isaac 


Pinto, who had already appeared in public, and 
possessed literary culture, to write a sort of vindi- 
cation for them, and make clear the wide difference 
between Jews of Portuguese descent and those of 
other lands. Pinto consented, or rather followed 
his own inclination, and prepared the " Reflections " 
upon Voltaire's defamation of Judaism (1762). He 
told this reckless calumniator that the crime of 
libeling single individuals was increased when the 
false accusations affected a whole nation, and 
reached its highest degree when directed against a 
people insulted by all men, and when the responsi- 
bility for the misdeeds of a few is laid upon the 
whole body, whose members, moreover, widely 
scattered, have assumed the character of the 
inhabitants of the country in which they live. 
An English Jew as little resembles his co-relig- 
ionist of Constantinople, as the latter does a Chi- 
nese mandarin ; the Jew of Bordeaux and he of 
Metz are two utterly different beings. Neverthe- 
less, Voltaire had indiscriminately condemned them, 
and his sketch of them was as absurd as untrue. 
Voltaire, who felt called upon to extirpate preju- 
dices, had in fact lent his pen to the greatest of 
them. He does not indeed wish them to be burnt, 
but a number of Jews would rather be burnt than 
so calumniated. " The Jews are not more ignorant, 
more barbarous, or superstitious than other nations, 
least of all do they merit the accusation of avarice." 
Voltaire owed a duty to the Jews, to truth, to his 
century, and to posterity, which would justly appeal 
to his authority when abusing and trying to crush 
an exceedingly unhappy people. 

However, as already said, it was not so much 
Pinto's aim to vindicate the whole of the Jewish 
world against Voltaire's malicious charges as to 
place his kinsmen, the Portuguese or Sephardic 
Jews, in a more favorable light. To this end, he 
pretended that a wide gulf existed between them 


and those of other extraction, especially the German 
and Polish jews. He averred, with great exagger- 
ation, that if a Sephardic Jew in England or Holland 
wedded a German Jewess, he would be excluded 
from the community by his relatives, and would not 
even find a resting-place in their cemetery. This 
arose from the fact that the Portuguese Jew^s traced 
their lineage from the noblest families of the tribe 
of Judah, and that their noble descent had always 
in Spain and Portugal been an impulse to great vir- 
tues and a protection against vice and crime. 
Among them no traces of the wickedness or evil 
deeds of which Voltaire accused them were to be 
found. On the; contrary, they had brought wealth 
to the states which received them, especially to Hol- 
land. The German and Polish Jews, on the other 
hand. Pinto abandoned to the attacks of their de- 
tractors, except that he excused their not over 
honorable trades and despicable actions by the 
overwhelming sufferings, the slavery, and humiliation 
which they had endured, and were still enduring. 
He succeeded in obtaining what he had desired. In 
reply, Voltaire paid him and the Portuguese Jews 
compliments, and admitted that he. had done wrong 
in including them in his charges, but nevertheless 
continued to abuse Jewish antiquity. 

Pinto's defense attracted great attention. The 
press, both French and English, pronounced a 
favorable judgment, and espoused the cause of the 
Jews against Voltaire. But they blamed Pinto for 
having been too partial to the Portuguese, and too 
strongly opposed to the German and Polish Jews, 
and, like Voltaire, passing sentence upon all indis- 
criminately, because of the behavior of a few indi- 
viduals. A Catholic priest under a Jewish disguise 
took up the cause of Hebrew antiquity. He ad- 
dressed "Jewish Letters " to Voltaire, pretending 
that they came from Portuguese and German Jews ; 
these were well meant but badly composed. They 


were widely read, and helped to turn the current 
of public opinion in favor of the Jews against 
Voltaire's savage attacks. They did not fail to re- 
mind him that owing to loss of money sustained 
through one Jew he pursued the whole race with his 
anger. This friendly pamphlet on behalf of the 
Jews being written in French, then the fashionable 
language, it was extensively read and discussed, and 
found a favorable reception. 

Sympathy for the Jews and the movement to ele- 
vate them from their servile position were most 
materially stimulated by a persecution which humane 
thinkers of the time considered surprising and un- 
expected, but which has often been repeated in -the 
midst of Christian nations. This persecution kindled 
passions on both sides, and awakened men to 
activity. In no part of Europe, perhaps, were the 
oppression and abasement of Jews greater than in 
the originally German, but at that time French pro- 
vince of Alsace, to which Metz may be reckoned. 
All causes of inveterate Jew-hatred-r-clerical intol- 
erance, racial antipathy, arbitrariness of the nobility, 
mercantile jealousy, and brute ignorance were 
combined against the Jews of Alsace, to render their 
existence in the century of enlightenment a con- 
tinual hell. Yet the oppression was so paltry in its 
nature that it could never stimulate the Jews to offer 
heroic resistance. The German populace of this 
province, like Germans in general, clung tenaciously 
to their hatred of the Jews. Both the nobles and 
citizens of Alsace turned a deaf ear to the voice of 
humanity, which spoke so eloquently in French liter- 
ature, and would not abate one jot of their legal 
rights over the Jews, who were treated as serfs. In 
Alsace there lived from three to four thousand Jew- 
ish families (from fifteen to twenty thousand souls). 
It was in the power of the nobility to admit new, or 
expel old families. In Metz the merchants had had 
a law passed limiting Jews to four hundred and 


eighty families. This condition of affairs had the 
same' consequences as in Austria and Prussia : 
younger sons were condemned to celibacy, or exile 
from their paternal home, and daughters to remain 
unmarried. In fact, it was worse than in Austria 
and elsewhere, because German pedantry carefully 
looked to the execution of these rigorous Pharaomc 
laws, and stealthily watched the French officials, lest 
any attempt be made to show indulgence towards 
the unfortunate people. Naturally the Jews of Al- 
sace and Metz were enclosed in Ghettos, and could 
only occasionally pass through the other parts of the 
towns. For these privileges they were compelled 
to pay exorbitant taxes. 

Louis XIV had presented a portion of his income 
derived from the Jews of Metz as a gift to the Due 
de Brancas and the Countess de Fontaine. They 
had to pay these persons 20,000 Kvres annually; 
besides poll-taxes, trade-taxes, house-taxes, con- 
tributions to churches and hospitals, war-taxes, and 
exactions of ever}' sort under other names. 

In Alsace they were obliged to pay protection- 
money to the king, tribute to the bishop of Stras- 
burg/and the duke of Hagenau, besides residence- 
taxes to the nobles in whose feudal territory they 
dwelt, and war-taxes. The privilege of residence 
did not descend to the eldest son, but had to be pur- 
chased from the nobleman, as if the son were a for- 
eign applicant for protection. The Jews had to win 
the good opinion, not alone of their lord, but also of 
his officials, by rich gifts at New Year, and on other 
occasions. Whence could they procure all these 
moneys, and still support their synagogues and 
schools ? 

Almost every handicraft and trade were forbid- 
den them in Alsace: legally they could engage 
only in cattle-dealing, and In trading in gold and 
silver. In Metz the Jews were allowed to kill only 
such animals as they required for private consump- 



tion, and the appointed slaughterers had to keep a 
list of the animals slain. If they wished to make a 
journey outside their narrow province, they had to 
pay a poll-tax, and were subjected to the vexations 
of passports. In Strasburg, the capital of the pro- 
vince, no Jew could stay over night. What re- 
mained but to obtain the money indispensable for 
their wretched existence in an illegal way through 
usury ? Those who possessed money made advan- 
ces to the small tradesmen, farmers, and vinedress- 
ers, at the ^ risk of losing the amounts lent, and 
demanded high interest, or employed other artifices. 
This only caused them to be more hated, and the 
growing impoverishment of the people was attri- 
buted to them, and was the source of their unspeak- 
able sufferings. They were in the sad position of 
being compelled to make themselves and others 

^ This miserable condition of the Alsatian Jews a 
villainous man sought to turn to his own advantage, 
and he almost brought on a sanguinary persecution. 
A lawyer, not without brains and literary culture, 
named Hell, belonging to a poor family, and ar- 
dently wishing for a high position, being acquainted 
with the devices of the Jewish usurers, actually 
learned the Hebrew language, to be able to levy 
blackmail on them without fear of discovery. He 
sent threatening letters in Hebrew, saying that 
they would inevitably be accused of usury and de- 
ception, if they did not supply him with a stated 
sum of money. This worthless lawyer afterwards 
became district judge to several Alsatian noblemen, 
and thus the Jews were given wholly into his power. 
Those who did not satisfy his continually increasing 
demands, were accused, ill-treated, and condemned. 
Meantime his unjust conduct was partially exposed: 
he was suspected, and this excited him against the 
Jews of Alsace. He devised a plan to arouse fana- 
ticism against them. He pointed out to debtors a 


way to escape the oppressive debts which they 
owed Jewish money-lenders, by producing false re- 
ceipts as for payments already rendered- Some of 
his creatures traveled through Alsace, and wrote 
out such acquittances. Conscientious debtors had 
their scruples silenced by the clergy , who assured 
them that robbing the Jews was a righteous act. 
The timid were pacified by a rogue especially des- 
patched for that purpose, who distributed orders 
and crosses, presumably in the name of the king, to 
those who accepted and presented the false receipts, 
and were ready to accuse the Jews of oppression 
and duplicity. Thus a menacing feeling, bordering 
on actual violence, developed against the Jew r s of 
Alsace. The debtors united with common ruffians 
and clergymen to implore the weak-minded king 
Louis XVI, to put an end to all disturbances by 
expelling the Jews from the province. To crown 
his work, the villainous district magistrate strove 
to exasperate the populace against them. He 
composed a venomous work against them (1779), 
" Observations of an Alsatian upon the Present 
Quarrels of the Jews of Alsace," in which he col- 
lected all the slanderous accusations against Jews 
from ancient times, in order to present a repulsive 
picture of them, and expose them to hatred and ex- 
termination. He admitted that receipts had been 
forged, but this was in consequence of the decrees 
of Providence, to \vhom alone vengeance was be- 
coming. ^ They hoped by these means to avenge 
the crucifixion of Jesus, the murder of God. This 
district judge aimed at the annihilation, or, at least, 
the expulsion of the Jews. But the spirit of tolera- 
tion had acquired sufficient strength to prevent the 
success of such cunning designs. His base tricks 
were revealed, and, at the command of the king, 
Hell was imprisoned, and afterwards banished from 
Alsace. A decree of the sovereign ordered (May, 
1 780) that lawsuits against usurers should no longer 


be decided by the district courts of the nobility, but 
by the chief councilor, or state councilor (Conseil 
Souverain) of Alsace. 

One result of these occurrences was that the 
Alsatian Jews finally roused themselves, and ven- 
tured to state that their position was intolerable, 
and to entreat relief from the throne of the gentle 
king Louis XVI. Their representatives (Cerf 
Berr?) drew up a memorial to the state council 
upon the inhuman laws under which they groaned, 
and made proposals for the amelioration of their 
lot. They felt, however, that this memorial should 
be written so as to influence public opinion, at this 
time almost as powerful as the king himself. But 
in their midst there was no man of spirit and ability 
who could compose a fitting description of their 

To whom could they turn except to Mendelssohn, 
looked upon by European Jews as their advocate 
and powerful supporter in distress ? To him, there- 
fore, the Alsatian Jews or, more correctly, their 
distinguished representative Cerf Berr, who knew 
Mendelssohn sent the material with the request, 
to give the necessary polish and an impressive 
form to their petition. Mendelssohn had neither 
the leisure, nor perhaps the skill to carry out their 
request. Fortunately, he had found a new friend 
and admirer, who, by knowledge and position, was 
better able to formulate such a memorial. Christ- 
ian William Dohm (b. 1751, d. 1820), owing to his 
thorough knowledge of history, had shortly before 
been appointed by Frederick the Great with the 
title of military councilor to superintend the 
archives. Like all ambitious youths and men who 
frequented Berlin, Dohm had sought out the Jew- 
ish philosopher, at this time at the summit of his 
fame ; and like all who entered his circle Dohm 
felt himself attracted by his intellectuality, gentle- 
ness, and great wisdom. During his stay in Berlin 


he was a regular visitor at the house of Mendels- 
sohn, who, on Saturday, his day of leisure, always 
assembled his friends around him. Every cultivated 
Christian who came in contact with Mendelssohn 
was pleasantly attracted by him, overcame his bias 
against Jews/ and experienced mingled admiration 
and sympathy for a race that had endured so much 
suffering, and produced such a personality. Dohm 
had already thrown aside his innate or acquired an- 
tipathy against Jews. His Interest in mankind 
rested not upon the shifting ground of Christian 
love, but upon the firm soil of human culture, char- 
acteristic of the eighteenth century, and included 
also this unhappy people. He had already planned 
to make the " history of the Jewish nation since the 
destruction of their own state " the subject of his 

Dohm evinced his readiness to draw up the mem- 
orial for the Alsatian Jews in a pleasing form, in 
conjunction with -Mendelssohn. Whilst engaged on 
this task, the thought struck him to publish a plea, 
not alone for protection for the few, but on behalf 
of all the German Jews, who suffered under similar 
oppression. Thus originated his never-to-be-for- 
gotten work, "Upon the Civil Amelioration of the 
Condition of the Jews" (finished August, 1781), the 
first step towards removing the heavy yoke from 
the neck of the Jews. With this pamphlet, like 
Lessing with his " Xathan," Dohm partly atoned for 
the guilt of the German nation in enslaving and de- 
grading the Jews. Dohm's apology has no clerical 
tinge about it, but was addressed to sober, enlight- 
ened statesmen, and laid particular stress upon the 
political advantages. The noble philanthropist 
who first pleaded for the emancipation of the ne- 
groes had fewer difficulties to overcome than Dohm 
in his ^efforts for the freedom of the Jews. The 
very circumstances that ought to have spoken in 
their favor, their intelligence and activity, their 



mission to teach Christian nations pure doctrines 
on God and morality, their ancient nobility all 
tended to their detriment. Their intellectual and 
energetic habits were described as cunning and 
love of gain ; their insistence upon the origin of 
their dogmas as presumption and infidelity, and 
their ancient nobility as pride. It is difficult to 
over-estimate the heroism required to speak a word 
on their behalf, in face of the numerous prejudices 
and sentiments against the Jews prevailing among 
all classes of Christian society. 

In his apology Dohm, as already noted, omitted 
all reference to the religious point of view, and 
dwelt solely upon the political and economical 
aspect- He started by asserting that it was a uni- 
versal conviction that the welfare of states depended 
upon increase of population. To this end many 
governments spent large sums of money to attract 
new citizens from foreign countries. An exception 
was made only in the case of Jews. " Almost in all 
parts of Europe the tendency of the laws and the 
whole constitution of the state is to prevent, as far 
as possible, the increase of these unfortunate Asiatic 
refugees. Residence is either denied them, or 
granted, at a fixed sum, for a short time. A large 
proportion of Jews thus find the gates of every town 
closed against them ; they are inhumanly driven 
away from every border, and nothing is left to them 
except to starve, or to save themselves from starva- 
tion by crime. Every guild would think itself dis- 
honored by admitting a Jew as a member ; therefore, 
in almost every country, the Hebrews are debarred 
from handicrafts and mechanical arts. Only men 
of rare genius, amidst such oppressive circumstances, 
retain courage and serenity to devote themselves to 
the fine arts and the sciences. Even the rare men 
who attain to a high degree of excellence, as well as 
those who are an honor to mankind through their 
irreproachable righteousness, meet with respect only 


from a few ; with the majority the most distinguished 
merits of soul and heart can never atone for the 
error of k being a Jew/ What reasons can have in- 
duced the governments of European states to be so 
unanimous in this attitude towards the Jewish 
nation?" asked Dohm. Is it possible that indus- 
trious and good citizens are less useful to the state, 
because they originally came from Asia, and are dis- 
tinguished by a beard, by circumcision, and their 
form of worship ? If the Jewish religion contained 
harmful principles, then the exclusion of its adherents 
and the contempt felt for them would be justified ; 
but that is not the case. ki The mob, which considers 
itself at liberty to deceive a Jew, falsely asserts that, 
by his law, he is permitted to cheat the adherents 
of another creed, and persecuting priests have spread 
stories of the prejudices felt by the Jews, and thus 
revealed their own. The chief book of the Jews, 
the Law of Moses, is regarded with reverence also 
by Christians." 

Dohm reviewed the history of the Jews in Europe 
how, in the first centuries, they had enjoyed full 
civil rights in the Roman Empire, and must have 
been considered worthy of such privileges how 
they were degraded and deprived of their rights, 
first by the Byzantines, then by the German bar- 
barians, especially by the Visigoths in Spain. From 
the Roman Empire the Jews had brought more cul- 
ture than the dominant nations possessed ; they 
were not brutalized by savage feuds, nor was their 
progress retarded by monkish philosophy and super- 
stition. In Spain amongst Jews and Arabs there 
had existed a more remarkable culture than in 
Christian Europe. Dohm then reviewed the false 
accusations and persecutions against Jews in the 
Middle Ages, painting the Christians as cruel bar- 
barians and the Jews as illustrious martyrs. After 
touching upon the condition of the Jews in the 
various states, he concluded his delineation with the 
words : 

CH. viir. DOHM'S PROGRAMME. 355 

" These principles of exclusion, equally opposed to humanity and 
politics, which bear the impress of the dark centuries, are unworthy 
of the enlightenment of our times, and deserve no longer to be fol- 
lowed. It is possible that some errors have become so deeply rooted 
that they will disappear only in the third or fourth generation. But 
this is no argument against beginning to reform now ; because, 
without such beginning, a better generation can never appear." 

Dohm suggested a plan whereby the amelioration 
of the condition of the Jews might be facilitated, and 
his proposals formed a programme for the future. 
In the first place, they were to receive equal rights 
with all other subjects. In particular, liberty of oc- 
cupation and in procuring a livelihood should be 
conceded them, so that, by wise precautions, they 
would be drawn away from petty trading and usury, 
and be attracted to handicrafts, agriculture,.arts, and 
sciences, all without compulsion. The moral eleva- 
tion of the Jews was to be promoted by the founda- 
tion of good schools of their own, or by the admis- 
sion of their youth into Christian schools, and by the 
elevation of adults in the Jewish Houses of Prayer. 
But it should also be impressed upon Christians, 
through sermons and other effectual means, that 
they were to regard and treat the Jews as brothers 
and fellow-men. As a matter of course, Dohm de- 
sired to see freedom in their private religious affairs 
granted them : free exercise of religion, the estab- 
lishment of synagogues, the appointment of teachers, 
maintenance of their poor, if considered wise, under 
the supervision of the government. Even the 
power of excluding refractory members from the 
community should be given them. Dohm, more- 
over, pleaded for the continuance, under certain re- 
strictions, of independent jurisdiction in cases be- 
tween Jews, the power to be vested in a tribunal of 
rabbis. He wished to debar them from only one 
privilege, from filling public offices, or entering the 
arena of politics. The ability to undertake these 
duties, he thought, was completely lacking in that 
generation, and would not manifest itself very con- 


spicuously in the next. Besides there was a super- 
abundance rather than a lack of competent state 
officers. For this reason, it would, for the present, 
be better both for the state and the Jews, if they 
worked in warehouses and behind the plough rather 
than in state offices. The immediate future dis- 
proved his doubts. 

Dohm foresaw that his programme for the eman- 
cipation of the Jews would meet with violent and 
stubborn opposition from the clergy and the theol- 
ogical school. He therefore submitted it to the 
" wisdom of the governments," who at this time 
were more inclined to progress and enlightenment 
than the people. Dohm was filled with the serious- 
ness and importance of his task ; he was positive 
that his proposals would lay the basis not only for 
the welfare of the Jews, but also for that of the 
states. It is not to be overlooked that Mendels- 
sohn stood behind him. Even if he did not dictate 
the words, yet he breathed into them his spirit of 
gentleness and love of mankind, and illumined 
the points which were strange and dark to Dohm, 
the Christian and political writer, Mendelssohn is, 
therefore, to be looked upon, if not as the father, 
certainly as the godfather, of Dohm's work. 

It was ^ inevitable for such a treatise to create 
great excitement in Germany. Must not this de- 
mand to treat Jews as equals have appeared to 
respectable Christians as a monstrous thing ; as if 
the nobility had been asked to place themselves at 
the same table with their slaves ? Soon after its 
appearance, Dohm's work advocating Jewish eman- 
cipation became extraordinarily popular ; it was 
read, discussed, criticised, and refuted by many, 
and approved by only a few. The first rumor was 
that Dohm had sold his pen to the Jews for a very 
high price, although he had specially entreated pro- 
tection for the poor homeless peddlers. Fortune 
began to smile upon the Jews after having turned 

CH. vni. JOSEPH ii. 357 

its back upon them for so many centuries. Scarcely 
had the pamphlet appeared, when Emperor Joseph, 
the first Austrian ruler to allow himself in some 
degree to be guided by moral and humane princi- 
ples, having snapt asunder the yoke of the Catholic 
Church, and having accorded a Toleration Edict to 
the Protestants, issued a series of laws relating to 
the Jews, which displayed sincere if rather fierce 

By this new departure (October 19, 1781), the 
Jews were permitted to learn handicrafts, arts, and 
sciences, and with certain restrictions to devote 
themselves to agriculture. The doors of the uni- 
versities and academies, hitherto closed to them, 
were thrown open. The education of the Jewish 
youth was a matter of great interest to this em- 
peror, who promoted "philosophical morality/' He 
accordingly decreed the establishment of Jewish 
primary and high schools (normal schools), and 
forced adults to learn the language of the country, 
by decreeing that in future only documents written 
in that language would possess legal force. He 
considerately removed the risk of all possible at- 
tempts at religious compulsion. In the schools 
everything that might be offensive to any creed was 
to be omitted from the curriculum. An ordinance 
enjoined (November 2) that the Jews were to be 
everywhere considered "fellow-men," and all ex- 
cesses against them were to be avoided. The 
Leibzoll (body-tax), more humiliating to Christians 
than to Jews, was also abolished by Joseph II of 
glorious memory, in addition to the special law- 
taxes, the passport-duty, the night-duty, and all 
similar oppressive imposts which had stamped the 
Jews as outcasts, for they were now to have equal 
rights with the Christian inhabitants (December 19). 
Joseph II did not intend to concede complete citi- 
zenship to the Jews ; they were still forbidden to 
reside in those cities whence Christian intolerance 


had hitherto banished them. Even in Vienna Jews 
were allowed to dwell only in a few exceptional 
cases, on payment of protection-money (toleration- 
tax), which protection did not extend to their 
grown-up sons. They were not suffered to have a 
single public synagogue in Vienna. But Joseph II 
annulled a number of vexatious, restrictive regula- 
tions, such as the compulsory wearing of beards, 
the prohibition against going out in the forenoon on 
Sundays and holidays, or frequenting public pleas- 
ure resorts. The emperor even permitted Jewish 
wholesale merchants, notables, and their sons, to 
wear swords (January 2, 1782), and especially insis- 
ted that Christians should behave In a friendly 
manner towards Jews. 

A notable beginning was thus made. The ig- 
nominy of a thousand years, which the uncharita- 
bleness of the Church, the avarice of princes, and 
the brutality of nations, had cast upon the race of 
Judah, was now partly removed, at least in one 
country. Dohm's proposals in consequence met 
with earnest consideration ; they were not regarded 
as ideal dreams, but as political principles worthy of 
attention. Scholars, clergymen, statesmen, and 
princes began to interest themselves seriously in 
the Jewish question. Every thoughtful person in 
Germany and elsewhere took one side or the other. 
Various opinions and ideas were aired ; the most 
curious propositions were made. A preacher, 
named Schwager, wrote : 

14 1 have always been averse to hating an unfortunate nation, be- 
cause it worships God in another way. I have always lamented that 
we have driven the Jews to deceive us by an oppressive political 
yoke. For, what else can they do, in order to live ? in what other 
way can they defray their heavy taxes ? " 

Diez, Dohm's excellent friend, one of the noblest 
men of that epoch, afterwards Prussian ambassador 
to the Turkish court, thought that Dohm had asked 
far too little for the Jews. 


"You aver most truly," he remarked, "that the present moral de- 
pravity of the Jews is a consequence of their bondage. But to color 
the picture, and weaken the reproaches leveled at the Jews, a repre- 
sentation of the moral depravity of the Christians would have been 
useful ; certainly it is not less than that of the Jews, and rather the 
cause of the latter." 

John von Miiller, the talented historian of the 
Swiss, with his wide attainments in general history, 
also admired the glorious antiquity of the Jews, 
praised Dohm's efforts on behalf of the Jews, and 
supplied him from the treasures of his knowledge 
with new proofs of the unjust and pitiless persecu- 
tion of the mediaeval Jews, and their demoralization 
by intolerable tyranny. He wished the writings of 
Maimuni, " the Luther of the Jews," to be translated 
into one of the European languages. 

Naturally, hostile pamphlets were not wanting. 
Especially noteworthy was an abusive tract, pub- 
lished in Prague, entitled " Upon the Inutility of the 
Jews in the Kingdoms of Bohemia and Moravia/* in 
which the author indulged in common insults 
against the Jews, and revived all the charges of 
poisoning wells, sedition, and other pretexts for 
their expulsion. This scurrilous work was so vio- 
lent, that Emperor Joseph forbade its circulation 
(March 2, 1782). A bitter opponent of the Jews at 
this time was Frederick Traugott Hartmann. And 
why? Because he had been cheated out of a few 
pennies by Jewish hawkers. On account of their 
venomous tone, however, these writings harmed the 
Jews less than those of the German pedants. 

To these belonged a famous scholar of authority, 
John David Michaelis, the aged professor at Got- 
tingen. His range of vision had been widened by 
travels and observation, and he had cut himself 
adrift from the narrowness of Lutheran theology. 
Michaelis was the founder of the rationalist school 
of theologians, who resolved the miracles and the 
sublimity of the Holy Scriptures into simple natural 
facts. Through his " Mosaic Law," and cultivation 


of Hebrew grammar and exegesis, he gained high 
repute. But Michaelis had exactly that proportion 
of unbelief and belief which made him hate die Jews 
as the bearers of revealed religion and a miraculous 
history, and despise them as antagonists of Chris- 
tianity. A Jewish officer in the French army, when 
it was stationed in Gottingen, had given but a 
grudging salute in return for the slavish obeisances 
of the professors, which they held as due to every 
Frenchman. This was ground enough for Michaelis 
to abominate the Jews one and all, and to affirm 
that they were of despicable character. Michaelis 
had several years before remarked, on the appear- 
ance of Lessing's drama "The Jew/' "that a noble 
Jew was a poetic impossibility." Experience had 
disproved this assertion through Mendelssohn anr 
other persons ; but a German professor cannot be 
mistaken. Michaelis adhered to his opinion that the 
Jews were an incorrigible race. Now he condemned 
the Jews from a theological point of view, now from 
political considerations. It is hard to say whether 
it is to be called insensibility, intellectual dullness, 
or malice, when Michaelis blurts out with : 

" It seems to me, that herein Germany they (the Jews) already have 
everything that they could possibly desire, and I do not know what he 
(Dohm) wishes to add thereto. Medicine, philosophy, physics, math- 
ematics, they are not excluded from, and he himself does not wish 
them to have offices." 

He even defended the taking of protection-money 
from the Jews. 

It cannot be said that the anti-Jewish treatise of 
Michaelis injured them at the time, for in no case 
would the German princes and people have eman- 
cipated them, had not the imperious progress of 
history compelled it. But in after years Michaelis 
was employed as an authority against the Jews. The 
agitation excited by Dohm, and the views pro and 
can had only resulted in forming public opinion 
upon Judaism, and this affected not Germany, but 


France. Miraculous concatenation of historical 
events ! The venomous Alsatian district judge 
wished to have the Jews of Alsace annihilated, and 
through his malice he actually facilitated the libera- 
tion of the Jews in France. 

Mendelssohn prudently kept himself in the back- 
ground in this movement : he did not desire to 
have attention drawn to him as a prejudiced de- 
fender of his brethren in religion and race. He 
blessed the outbreak of interest in his unhappy 

" Blessed be Almighty Providence that has allowed me, at the end 
of my days, to see the happy time, when the rights of humanity begin 
to be realized in their true extent." 

However, two things induced him to break silence. 
He found that the arrows hurled by Dohm had been 
insufficient to pierce the thick-skinned monster of 

" Reason and humanity have raised their voices in vain, for grey- 
headed prejudice is deaf." 

Dohm himself did not appear to him to be free 
from the general prejudice, because he admitted that 
the Jews of the present day were depraved, useless, 
even harmful ; therefore he suggested means to im- 
prove them. But Mendelssohn, who knew his co- 
religionists better, did not find them so greatly in- 
fected with moral leprosy or differing so widely 
from Christians of the same class and trade as ar- 
rogant Christians in their self-glorification were wont 
to assert. In a very clever way Mendelssohn made 
not alone the Gottingen scholars Michaelis and 
Hartmann, but also Dohm, understand that they had 
misconceived the Jewish question. 

" It is wonderful to note how prejudice assumes the forms of every 
century in order to act despotically towards us, and place difficulties 
in the way of our obtaining civil rights. In superstitious ages we 
were said to insult sacred objects out of mere wantonness ; to pierce 
crucifixes and cause them to bleed ; secretly to circumcise children 


and stab them in order to feast our eyes upon the sight; to draw 
Christian blood for our Passover ; to poison wells. 

"Now times have changed, calumny no longer makes the^desired 
impression. Now we, in turn, are upbraided with superstition and 
ignorance, lack of moral sentiments, taste, and refined manners, in- 
capacity for the arts, sciences, and useful pursuits, especially for the 
service of war and the state, invincible inclination to cheating, usury, 
and lawlessness; all these have taken the place of coarse indictments 
against us, to exclude us from the number of useful citizens, and re- 
ject us from the motherly bosom of the state. They tie our hands, and 

reproach us that we do not use them ^ . Reason and the 

spirit of research of our century have not yet wiped away all traces 
of barbarism in history. Many a legend of the past has obtained 
credit, because it has not occurred to any one to cast doubts upon it. 
Some are supported by such important authorities that few have the 
boldness to look upon them as legends and libels. Even at the pres- 
ent moment there is many a city of Germany where no circumcised 
person, even though he pays duty for his creed, is allowed to issue 
forth in open daylight unwatched, lest he kidnap a Christian child or 
poison the wells'; while during the night he is not trusted under the 
strictest surveillance, owing to his well-known intercourse with evil 

The second point in Dohm's memoir which did 
not please Mendelssohn was, that it demanded the 
recognition of the state for the Jewish religion, inas- 
much as the government was to grant it the right 
of excluding unruly members by a sort of excom- 
munication. This did not harmonize with his con- 
ception of a pure religion. In order to counteract 
the errors of Dohm's well-meant apology, and the 
obstinate misapprehension of the Jews as much as 
. possible, Mendelssohn caused one of his young 
friends, the physician Marcus Herz, to translate 
from the English original the " Vindicise Judaeorum " 
of Manasseh ben Israel against the numerous slan- 
derous charges brought against them. He himself 
wrote a preface full of luminous, glowing thoughts 
(March, 1782), called "The Salvation of the Jews," 
as an appendix to Dohm's work. Manasseh's Apol- 
ogy was buried in a book little read ; Mendelssohn 
made its excellent truths known among the cultured 
classes, and by a correct elucidation gave them 
proper emphasis. In this preface he insisted, that 
while the church arrogates the right of inflicting 
punishment upon its followers, religion, the true 


faith, based upon reason and love of humanity, " re- 
quires neither an arm nor a finger for its purpose ; 
it concerns only the spirit and the heart. Moreover 
it does not drive sinners and renegades from its 
doors." Without knowing the whole extent of the 
harm caused by it in the course of Jewish history, 
Mendelssohn detested the interdicting power. He 
therefore adjured the rabbis and elders to give up 
their right of excommunicating. 

" Alas 1 my brethren , you have felt the oppressive yoke of intoler- 
ance only too severely ; all the nations of the earth seem hitherto to 
have been deluded by the idea that religion can be maintained only by 
an iron hand. You, perhaps, have suffered yourselves to be misled 
into thinking the same. Oh, my brethren, follow the example of love, 
as you have till now followed that of hatred ! " 

Mendelssohn now held so high a position in pub- 
lic opinion, that every new publication bearing his 
name was eagerly read. The fundamental thought 
of the preface to Manasseh ben Israel's "Vindica- 
tion," that religion has no rights over its followers 
and must not resort to compulsory measures, struck 
its readers with astonishment. This had never oc- 
curred to any Christian believer. Enlightened 
Christian clergymen, such as Teller, Spalding, Zolli- 
kofer, and others, gradually fell in with the new idea, 
and tendered its originator public applause. Bigoted 
clerics and obdurate minds, on the other hand, be- 
held therein the destruction of religion. "All this 
is new and difficult ; first principles are denied," 
said they. In Jewish circles also many objections 
were made to Mendelssohn's view. It seemed as 
if he had suddenly discarded Judaism, which cer- 
tainly owns an elaborate system of penalties for re- 
ligious crimes and transgressions. From the Chris- 
tian camp a pamphlet called " Inquiry into Light and 
Truth" was launched against him, which asserted 
that he had finally dropped his mask ; that he had 
embraced the religion of love, and turned his back 
upon his native faith, which execrates and punishes. 


A second time Mendelssohn was compelled to 
emerge from his retirement, and give his views upon 
religion. This he did in a work entitled " Jerusa- 
lem," or "Upon Ecclesiastical Power and Judaism " 
(spring, 1783), whose purity of contents and 
form is a memorial of his lofty genius. The gen- 
tleness that breathes through this book, the 
warmth of conviction, the frankness of utterance, its 
child-like ingenuousness, yet profoundly thoughtful 
train of ideas, the graceful style which renders even 
dry discussion enjoyable all these qualities earned 
contemporary approval for this work, and will always 
assure it a place in literature. At the time it excited 
great surprise. It had been believed, that, owing 
to his ideas upon religion and Judaism, Mendels- 
sohn, if he had not entirely broken away from Juda- 
ism, had yet declared many things therein to be 
worthless. He now showed that he was an ardent 
Jew, and would not yield a tittle of existing Judaism, 
either rabbinical or biblical ; that he, in fact, claimed 
the highest privileges for it. All this was in accord 
with his peculiar method of thought. 

Judaism recognizes the freedom of religious con- 
victions. Original, pure Judaism, therefore, contains 
no binding articles of belief, no symbolical books, by 
which the faithful were compelled to swear and 
affirm their incumbent duty. Judaism prescribes 
not faith, but knowledge, and it urges that its doc- 
trines be taken to heart. In this despised religion 
everyone may think, opine, and err as he pleases, 
without incurring the guilt of heresy. Its right of 
inflicting punishment begins only when evil thoughts 
become acts. Why? Because Judaism is not re- 
vealed religion, but revealed legislation. Its first 
precept is not, " thou shalt believe or not believe," 
but, "thou shalt do or abstain from doing." 

" In the divinely-ordained constitution, state and religion are one. 
Not unbelief, false teaching, and error, but wicked offenses against 
the principles of the state and the national constitution are chastised. 

CH. vnr. "JERUSALEM." 365 

With the destruction of the Temple, i. <?., with the downfall of the 
state, all corporal and capital punishment, as well as money fines, 
ceased. The national bonds were dissolved ; religious trespasses 
were no longer crimes against the state, and religion, as such, knows 
no punishments." 

For those who seriously or jestingly had reported 
that Mendelssohn had separated from Judaism, he 
laid stress upon two points not wholly germane to 
his subject, viz., that the so-called ceremonial law 
of Judaism is likewise, indeed particularly, of divine 
origin, and that its obligatory character must con- 
tinue " until it pleases the Supreme to abrogate it as 
plainly and publicly as it was revealed." 

The effect of this detailed apology was greater 
than Mendelssohn could have expected. Instead 
of defending himself he had come forward as an 
accuser, and in a manner at once gentle and forcible 
he had laid bare the hateful ulcers of the church and 
state constitution. Two authoritative representa- 
tives of the age pronounced flattering opinions upon 
him and the subject which he was discussing. Kant, 
who had already testified to his greatness of thought, 
wrote that he had read "Jerusalem " with admiration 
for its keenness of argument, its refinement, and 
cleverness of composition. 

"I consider this book the herald of a great reform, which will 
affect not alone your nation, but also others. You have succeeded 
in combining your religion with such a degree of freedom of con- 
science as was never imagined possible, and of which no other faith 
can boast. You have, at the same time, so thoroughly and clearly 
demonstrated the necessity of unlimited liberty of conscience in every 
religion, that ultimately our Church will also be led to reflect how to 
remove from its midst everything that disturbs and oppresses con- 
science, which will finally unite all men in their view of the essential 
points of religion," 

Michaelis, the rationalistic anti-Semite, stood baf- 
fled, embarrassed, and ashamed before the bold 
ideas of the "Jerusalem." Judaism, which he had 
scornfully disdained, now fearlessly and victoriously 
raised its head. The Jew Mendelssohn, whom he 
would not have trusted with a penny, appeared the 


incarnation of conscientiousness and wisdom. 
Michaelis was sorely perplexed in passing judg- 
ment upon this remarkable work. He was obliged 
to admit many things. Thus, without selfish mo- 
tives, impelled only by circumstances, Mendelssohn 
glorified Judaism, and shook off disgrace from his 
people. In the meantime Dohm was aiding him. 
He continued to expound Judaism in the most fav- 
orable light, and refute all objections, the honest as 
well as the malicious ones ; he had come to regard 
the quarrel as his own. But Dohm effected most 
by enlisting through his writings in favor of Jews 
the sympathies of Mirabeau, a man with shoulders 
strong enough to bear a new system of the world, 
and he continued the work of Dohm. 

At the same time, and in the same way, that is, 
indirectly, Mendelssohn again urged the internal 
rejuvenescence of the Jews, which was to accom- 
pany their emancipation. From modesty or dis- 
cretion, he would not come to the front ; he had 
stimulated Dohm to do battle for their emancipa- 
tion, and for their regeneration he brought forward 
another friend, who appeared born for the task. 
Owing to Mendelssohn, Wessely became a histor- 
ical personage, who worked with all his energy for 
the improvement of the Jews, completing the de- 
ficiency of Mendelssohn's retiring character. Hart- 
wig (Hartog, Naphtali-Herz) Wessely (born in 
Hamburg, 1725 ; died in the same town, 1805) was 
of a peculiar disposition, combining elements not 
often associated. His grandfather had established 
a manufactory for arms in Holstein, and had been a 
commercial councilor and royal resident. His 
father also conducted an important business, and 
had frequent intercourse with so-called great peo- 
ple. In this way Hartwig Wessely came with his 
father to Copenhagen, where a Portuguese congre- 
gation, and also a few German Jews had settled. 
His early education was the same as that of most 


boys of that time; he learnt to read Hebrew 
mechanically, and to mis-translate the Bible, to be 
launched, a boy of nine, into the labyrinth of the 
Talmud. But a traveling grammarian, Solomon 
Hanau, promoted the development of the germs 
within him, and inspired him with love for the 
Hebrew language. His labor was not in vain. 
The seed sown by Hanau was to bear thousand-fold 
fruit. Wessely's chief interest was the study of the 
Holy Writings in the original tongue ; it was the 
aim of his life to understand them from all points of 
view. Owing to his father's frequent contact with 
non-Jewish circles, in the course of business, 
Wessely obtained an insight into actual life, and 
absorbed other branches of knowledge, the modern 
languages, geography, history, descriptions of trav- 
els. These only served as auxiliary sciences to be 
employed in his special study of the Scriptures, and 
by their means to penetrate deeper into their 
thought and spirit. Like Mendelssohn, Wessely 
was self-taught. Very early he developed taste, a 
sense for beauty, feeling for purity of speech and 
form, and repugnance to the mixed dialects and the 
jargon commonly used among German Jews. 

Wessely again resembled Mendelssohn in char- 
acter, distinguished as he was by strict conscien- 
tiousness and elevated feelings of honor. In him, 
too, thoughts, sentiments, words, and deeds, showed 
no discrepancy. He was of deep, pure piety, an 
unswerving adherent to Judaism. His nature, how- 
ever, did not display the gentle pliancy of Mendels- 
sohn's. He was stiff and pedantic, more inclined to 
juggle with words and split hairs than to think 
deeply, and he had no correct idea of the action of 
world-moving forces. All his life Wessely remained 
a visionary, and saw the events of the real world 
through colored glasses. In one way Wessely was 
apparently superior to Mendelssohn ; he was a 
poet. In reality, however, he only possessed un- 


common facility and skill in making- beautiful, well- 
sounding verses of blameless refinement, of graceful 
symmetrical smoothness, and accurate construction. 
Wessely was greatly charmed by the laws of 
Emperor Joseph in favor of the Jews, especially by 
the command to erect schools ; he beheld therein 
the dawn of a golden age for the Jews, whilst Men- 
delssohn, with his keen perception, from the first 
did not expect great results. He remarks, "It is 
perhaps only a passing idea, without any substance, 
or, as some fear, it has a financial purpose.'* 
Wessely, however, composed a glowing hymn of 
praise to the noble rule and the magnanimity of 
Emperor Joseph. As soon as he was informed 
that the rigidly orthodox party in Vienna regretted 
the order to establish schools as an interference 
with their liberty of conscience, he addressed a He- 
brew letter (March, 1782), called " Words of Peace 
and-Truth," to the Austrian congregations, exhort- 
ing them to welcome it as a benefit, to rejoice in it, 
and at once execute it. He explained that it was a 
religious duty of the Jews, recommended even by 
the Talmud, to acquire general culture, that the 
latter must even precede a knowledge of religion, 
and that only by such means could they remove the 
disgrace which, owing to their ignorance, had 
weighed upon them for so long a time. Wessely 
emphasized the necessity of banishing the barbarous 
jargon from the midst of the Jews, and of cultivating 
a pure, euphonious language. He sketched a plan 
of instruction in his letter, showing how the Jewish 
youth should be led, step by step, from elementary 
subjects to the study of the Talmud. This letter, 
written with fervor, impressive eloquence, and in a 
beautiful Hebrew style, could not have failed to 
produce great effect, had not Wessely, in his fan- 
tastic manner, recommended that all Jewish youths, 
without distinction of talents and future profession, 
should be taught, not only history and geography, 


but also natural sciences,, astronomy, and religious 
philosophy, because only by this preliminary know- 
ledge could a thorough understanding of Holy 
Writ and of Judaism be acquired ! 

This epistle bore him both sweet and bitter fruit. 
The community of Trieste, chiefly comprising Italian 
and Portuguese Jews, who, unlike the Germans, did 
not consider culture as heresy, had applied to the 
governor, Count Zinzendorf, declaring their readi- 
ness to establish a normal school, and begging him 
to advise them how they might procure text books 
on religion and ethics. Zinzendorf directed them 
to Mendelssohn, whose celebrated name had pene- 
trated to that distant place. Accordingly, Joseph 
Chayim Gala'igo, in the name of the congregation 
of Trieste, addressed a petition to the Jewish sage 
of Berlin for his writings. On this occasion, Men- 
delssohn called the attention of the people of Trieste 
to his friend Wessely and to his circular letter^ rec- 
-ommending the founding of Jewish schools, ancl the 
community forthwith entered into negotiations with 
him. Thus his fervent words met with early 

From the strictly pious people, however, a storm 
now broke out against him. They were particularly 
indignant at his hearty approval of Emperor Joseph's 
reforms. The unamiable manner in which princes 
were wont to concede freedom, the force brought to 
bear upon the Jews, a natural aversion to forsake 
the past, the legitimate fear that through school ed- 
ucation and partial emancipation young men would 
be seduced from Judaism, and that the instruction 
given at the normal schools would supersede the 
study of the Talmud all these things had induced 
the rabbis and the representatives of tradition to 
oppose the reforming Jewish ordinances of Emperor 
Joseph. Besides, men of doubtful piety, such as 
Herz Homberg, eagerly pressed forward to obtain 
.appointments at the newly-founded training schools, 


and to tempt the youthful students to innovations. 
There were, to be sure, intelligent men, especially in 
Prague, who greeted the new laws as salutary meas- 
ures, and hoped that by these means the Jews would 
rise out of their wretched, demoralized condition. 
But this minority was denounced by the orthodox 
as innovators and triflers. Religious simplicity, 
which at every puff of wind feared the downfall of 
the edifice of faith, and the desire of gain, which 
fattened upon ignorance, and the perverse method 
of instruction in a corrupt dialect, worked hand in 
hand to predispose the communities against school 
reforms. Wessely destroyed the whole opposition 
with one blow. He who had hitherto been respected 
as an orthodox believer, now supported the new 
order of things. Further, in his incautious way, he 
had quoted the Talmudical sentence, "A Talmudist 
who does not possess knowledge (general culture), 
is uglier than a carcass." This expression greatly 
angered the orthodox. The Austrian rabbis dared 
not attack him openly, because he had only followed 
the emperor in his ideas. They appear therefore 
to have incited certain Polish rabbis to condemn his 
circular letter and excommunicate him. 

Although the zealots were without support from 
Berlin, they continued in their heretic-hunting, caus- 
ing the pulpits to re-echo with imprecations against 
Wessely; and in Lissa his letter was publicly burnt. 
He had the bitter experience of standing alone in 
this conflict. None of his adherents publicly sided 
with him, although he was contending for a just cause 
by noble methods and in a most becoming manner. 
Mendelssohn did not like such disputes, and at this 
time was suffering too much, bodily and mentally, 
to take part. Thus Wessely had to conduct his 
own defense. He published a second letter (April 
24), supposed to be addressed to the Trieste con- 
gregation, in which he again dwelt upon the im- 
portance of regular instruction, and of the abolition 


of old practices, and disproved the charges against 
him. Gentle and forbearing as he was; he avoided 
retorting severely upon his opponents ; but he per- 
mitted words of censure against orthodoxy and the 
one-sided, perverse Talmudic tendency to slip from 
him. It was, indeed, the irony of history, that the 
most orthodox among the followers of Mendelssohn, 
without wishing it, opened fire on Rabbinism, as the 
Kabbalist Jacob Emden had given the first violent 
blow to the Kabbala. By and by, several Italian 
rabbis of Trieste, Ferrara, and Venice, spoke in 
favor of Wessely, and recommended culture, al- 
though they were unable to bridge over the chasm 
between it and Rabbinism. Wessely was victorious ; 
and the opposing rabbis laid down their arms. 
Schools for regular instruction arose here and there, 
even in Prague. But the strict Talmudists were 
right. Their suspicions foreboded the future more 
truly than Mendelssohn's and Wessely's confidence. 
The old rigid form of Judaism could no more assert 
itself. Both these men, who had felt so much at 
ease in the old structure, and wished only to see it 
cleansed here and there from cobwebs and fungus 
growths, contributed to sap its foundations. 

Wessely, ever deserted by fortune, lived to see 
this decay with weeping eyes. Mendelssohn, more 
fortunate, was spared this pain. Death called him 
away in time, before he perceived that his circle, 
even his own daughters, treated with contemptuous 
scorn and rejected what his heart held to be most 
sacred, and what he so earnestly strove to glorify. 
Had he lived ten years longer, even his wisdom 
would perhaps not have availed him to tide over 
this anguish. He who without a trace of romance 
had led an ideal life, died ideally transfigured, at the 
right moment. The friendship and the philosophy 
which had elevated his life and brought him fame 
broke his heart. When Mendelssohn was about 
to raise a memorial to his unforgotten friend, to 


show him in his true greatness to future gen- 
erations, he learned from Jacobi that shortly ^ be- 
fore his death Lessing had manifested a decided 
liking for the philosophy of Spinoza. " Lessing a 
Spinozist ! " This pierced Mendelssohn's heart as 
with a spear. Nothing was so distasteful to him as 
the pantheistic system of Spinoza, which denied a 
personal God, Providence, and Immortality, ideas 
with which Mendelssohn's soul was bound up. 
That Lessing should have entertained such con- 
victions, and that he, his bosom friend, should 
know nothing whatsoever about them ! Jealousy 
that Lessing had communicated to others the secret 
so carefully concealed from himself, and deep dis- 
appointment that his friend had not shared his own 
convictions took possession of Mendelssohn. He 
suspected, that his philosophy, if it was true that 
Lessing had not been pleased with it, would become 
obsolete, and be thrust aside. His whole being 
rose in resistance against such doubts. These 
thoughts robbed the last years of his life of rest, 
made him passionate, excited, feverish. While 
composing his work in refutation of Jacobi's, " To 
the Friends of Lessing," excitement so overpowered 
him that it brought on his death (January 4, 1786). 
This ideal death for friendship and wisdom worthily 
concluded his life, and showed him to posterity as 
he appeared to his numerous friends and admirers, 
an upright, honest man, in whom was neither false- 
hood nor guile. Almost the entire population of 
the Prussian capital, and many earnest men in Ger- 
many and beyond its borders mourned the man 
who, forty years before, with heavy heart had 
knocked at one of the gates of Berlin, in fear that 
the Christian or the Jewish beadle would drive him 
away. The attempt of his Christian friends, Nico- 
lai, Biester, and Engel, the tutpr of the Crown 
Prince Frederick William III, in conjunction with 
Jewish admirers, to erect a statue to Mendelssohn 


in the Opera Square next to those of Leibnitz, 
Lambert, and Sulzer, although it did not meet with 
approval, characterizes the progress of the time. 
The deformed son of the so-called " Ten Command- 
ments writer" of Dessau had become an ornament 
to the city of Berlin. 



The Alliance of Reason with Mysticism Israel Baalshem, his Career 
and Reputation Movement against Rabbinism The " Zaddik " 
Beer Mizricz, his Arrogance and Deceptions The Devotional 
Methods of the Chassidim Their Liturgy Dissolution of the 
Synods "of the Four Countries" Cossack Massacres in Poland 
Elijah Wilna, his Character and Method of ResearchThe 
Mizricz and Karlin Chassidim Circumstances prove Favorable 
to the Spread of the New Sect Vigorous Proceedings against 
them in Wilna Death of Beer Mizricz Progress of Chassidism 
despite the Persecution of its Opponents. 

17501786 C. E. 

As soon as an historical work has performed its 
service, and is to undergo a change, new phe- 
nomena arise from various sides, and assume a 
hostile attitude, either to alter or destroy it. It 
might have been foreseen that the rejuvenescence 
of the Jewish race, for which Mendelssohn had lev- 
eled the way, would produce a transformation and 
decomposition of religious habits among Jews. The 
innovators desired this, and hoped, and strove for it ; 
the old orthodox party suspected and dreaded it. 
The process of dissolution was brought about also in 
another way, upon another scene, under entirely 
different conditions, and by other means, and this 
could not have been foreseen. There arose in Po- 
land a new Essenism, with forms similar to those of 
the ancient cult, with ablutions and baths, white 
garments, miraculous cures, and prophetic visions. 
Like the old movement, it originated in ultra-piety, 
but soon turned against its own parent, and perhaps 
hides within itself germs of a peculiar kind, which, 
being in course of development, cannot be defined. 
It seems remarkable that, at the time when Men- 



delssohn declared rational thought to be the essence 
of Judaism, and founded, as it were, a widely-exten- 
ded order of enlightened men, another banner was 
unfurled, the adherents of which announced the 
grossest superstition to be the fundamental principle 
of Judaism, and formed an order of wonder-seeking 
confederates. Both these new bodies took up a 
hostile position to traditional Judaism, and created 
a rupture. History in its generative power is as 
manifold and puzzling as nature. It produces in 
close proximity healing herbs and poisonous plants, 
lovely flowers and hideous parasites. Reason and 
unreason seemed to have entered into a covenant 
to shatter the gigantic structure of Talmudic Juda- 
ism. The attempt once before made by history, 
to subvert Judaism by the contemporaneous exist- 
ence of Spinoza and Sabbatai Zevi, was now re- 
peated by the simultaneous attacks of representa- 
tives of reason and unreason. Enlightenment and 
Kabbalistic mysticism joined hands to commence 
the work of destruction. Mendelssohn and Israel 
Baalshem, what contrasts ! Yet both unconsciously 
undermined the basis of Talmudic Judaism. The 
origin of the new Chassidim, who had already be- 
come numerous, and who sprang up very rapidly, is 
not so clear as the movement started by Mendels- 
sohn. The new sect, a daughter of darkness, was 
born in gloom, and even to-day proceeds stealthily 
on its mysterious way. Only a few circumstances 
which contributed to its rise and propagation are 

The founders of the new Chassidism were Israel 
of Miedziboz (born about 1698; died 1759) and 
Beer of Mizricz (born about 1700 ; died 1772). The 
former received, alike from his admirers and his an- 
tagonists, the surname of " The Wonderworker by 
means of Invocations in the Name of God/' Baal- 
shem, or Baal-Shemtob, in the customary abbreviated 
form, Besht. As ugly as the name, Besht, was the 


form of the founder and the order that he called 
into existence. The Graces did not sit by his 
cradle-, but the spirit of belief in wonderworking, 
and his brain was so filled with fantastic images 
that he could not distinguish them from real, tangi- 
ble beings. The experiences of Israel's youth are 
unknown. So much, however, is certain; he was 
left an orphan, poor and neglected, early in life, and 
passed a great portion of his youth in the forests 
and caves of the Carpathian mountains. The spurs 
of the Carpathian hills were his teachers. Here he 
learnt what he would not have acquired in the dark, 
narrow, dirty hovels called schools in Poland 
namely, to understand the tongue which nature 
speaks. The spirits of the mountains and the foun- 
tains whispered secrets to him. Here he also 
learned, probably from the peasant women who 
gathered herbs on the mountain-tops and on the 
edges of rivers, the use of plants as remedies. As 
they did not trust to the healing power of nature, 
but added conjurations and invocations to good and 
evil spirits, Israel also accustomed himself to this 
method of cure. He became a miracle-doctor. 
Necessity, too, was his teacher ; it taught him to 
pray. How often, in his forsaken and orphaned 
condition, may he have suffered from want even of 
dry bread, how often may he have been surrounded 
by real or imaginary dangers ! In his distress he 
prayed in the usual forms of the synagogue ; but he 
spoke his words with fervor and intense devotion, 
or cried them aloud in the solitude of the mountains. 
His audible prayer awakened the echoes of the 
mountains, which appeared as an answer to his sup- 
plications. He seems to have been often in a state 
of rapture, and to have induced this condition by 
frantic movements of the whole body while praying. 
This agitation drove the blood to his head, made 
his eyes glitter, and wrought both body and soul 
into such a condition of over-excitement that he felt 


a deadly weakness come over him. Was this 
magnetic tension of the soul caused by the 'motions 
and the shouting, singing, and praying? 

Israel Baalshem asserted that, in consequence of 
these bodily agitations and this intense devotion, he 
often caught a glimpse of infinity. His soul soared 
upward to the world of light, heard and saw Divine 
secrets and revelations, entered into conversation 
with sublime spirits, and by their intervention could 
secure the grace of God and prosperity, and espe- 
cially avert impending calamities. Israel Miedziboz 
also boasted that he could see into the future, as 
secrets were unveiled to him. Was this a deliber- 
ate boast, self-deception, or merely an over-estima- 
tion of morbid feelings ? There are persons, times, 
and places, in which the line of demarcation be- 
tween trickery and self-delusion cannot be distin- 
guished. In Poland, in Baalshem's time, with the 
terrible mental strain created by the Kabbala in 
connection with the Sabbatian fraud, the feverish 
expectation of imminent Messianic redemption, ev- 
erything was possible and everything credible. In 
that land the fancy of both Jews and Christians 
moved among extraordinary and supernatural phe- 
nomena as in its natural element. Israel stead- 
fastly and firmly believed in the visions seen when 
he was under mental and physical excitement ; he 
believed in the power of his prayers. In his delu- 
sion he blasphemously declared that prayer is a 
kind of marriage union (Zivug) of man with the 
Godhead (Shechina), upon which he must enter 
whilst in a state of excitement. Equipped with al- 
leged higher knowledge of secret remedies and the 
spirit world, to which he thought he had attained 
through Divine grace, Israel entered the society of 
men to prove his higher gifts. It must be acknowl- 
edged to his credit that he never misused these tal- 
ents. He did not make a trade of them, nor seek to 
earn his livelihood with them. At first he followed 


the humble occupation of a wagoner, afterwards he 
dealt in horses, and when his means permitted it he 
kept a tavern. 

Occasionally, when specially requested, he em- 
ployed his miraculous remedies, and thereby gained 
so great a reputation that he was consulted even by 
Polish nobles. He became conspicuous by his 
noisy, delirious praying, which must have so trans- 
figured him that men did not recognize the wagoner 
or horse-dealer whom they knew. He was admired 
for his revelation of secrets. In Poland not only 
the unlearned and the Jews considered such gifts 
and miracles possible ; the Jesuits and the Kabbal- 
ists had stultified the Christians and the Jews of 
their country, and plunged them into a state of prim- 
itive barbarism. 

It would have been a remarkable thing if such a 
wonder-doctor, who appeared to have intercourse 
with the spirit world, had not found adherents, but 
he can hardly have designed the formation of a new 
sect. He was joined by persons of a similar dispo- 
sition to his own, who felt a religious impulse, which 
could not be satisfied, they thought, by a rigorous, 
penitential life, or by mechanical repetition of pre- 
scribed prayers. They joined Israel, in Miedziboz, 
to pray with devotion, i. e., in a sing-song tune, clap- 
ping their hands, bowing, jumping, gesticulating, and 
uttering cries. At almost the same time there 
arose, in Wales, a Christian sect called " the Jump- 
ers," who resorted to similar movements during 
prayer, and induced trances and mesmeric dreams. 
At the same time there was established, in North 
America, the sect of the Shakers, by an Irish girl, 
Johanna Lee, who likewise in the delirium of prayer 
pursued mystic Messianic phantoms. Israel need 
not have been a trickster to obtain followers. Mys- 
ticism and madness are contagious. He particularly 
attracted men who desired to lead a free and merry 
life, at the same time hoping to reach a lofty aim, 

CH. IX. DOB BEER. 379 

arid to live assured of the nearness of God in seren- 
ity and calmness, and to advance the Messianic 
future. They did not need to pore over Talmudical 
folios in order to attain to higher piety. 

It became the fashion in neo-Chassidean circles to 
scoff at the Talmudists. Because the latter mocked 
at the unlearned chief of the new order, who had a 
following without belonging to the guild of Talmud- 
ists, without having been initiated into the Talmud 
and Its appendages, the Chassidim depreciated the 
study of the Talmud, avowing that it was not able 
to promote a truly godly life. Covert war existed 
between the neo-Chassidim and the Rabbanites ; the 
latter could not, however, harm their opponents so 
long as Israel's adherents did not depart from exist- 
ing Judaism. After the death of the founder, when 
barbarism and degeneracy increased, the feud grew 
into a complete rupture under Beer of Mizricz. 

Dob Beer (or Berish) was no visionary like Israel, 
but possessed the faculty of clear insight into the 
condition of men's minds. He was thus able to 
render the mind and will of others subservient to 
him. Although he joined the new movement only 
a short time before Israel's death, yet, whether at 
his suggestion or not, Israel's son and sons-in-law 
were passed over, and Beer was made Israel's suc- 
cessor in the leadership of the neo-Chassidean com- 
munity. Beer, who transferred the center to Miz- 
ricz a village in Volhynia was superior to his 
master in many points. He was well read in Tal- 
mudical and Kabbalistic writings, was a fluent 
preacher (Maggid), who, to further his purpose, 
could make the most far-fetched biblical verses, as 
also Agadic and Zoharic expressions, harmonize, 
and thus surprise his audience. He removed from 
the Chassidim the stigma of ignorance, especially 
disgraceful in Poland, and secured an accession of 
supporters. He had a commanding appearance, did 
not mingle with the people, but lived the whole 


week secluded in a small room only accessible to 
his confidants and thus acquired the renown of 
mysterious intercourse with the heavenly world. 
Only on the Sabbath did he show himself to all who 
longed to be favored with his sight. On this day 
he appeared splendidly attired in satin, his outer 
garment, his shoes, and even his snuff-box being 
white, the color signifying grace in the Kabbalistic 
language. On this day, in accordance with the cus- 
tom introduced by Israel Besht, he offered up 
prayers together with his friends, with the strangers 
who had made a pilgrimage to him, with the new 
members, and those curious to see the Kabbalistic 
saint and wonderworker. To produce the joyous 
state of mind necessary to devout prayer, Beer in- 
dulged in vulgar jokes, whereby the merriment of 
the bystanders was aroused ; for instance, he would 
joke with one of the circle, and throw him down. 
In the midst of this child's play he would suddenly 
cry out, u Now serve the Lord with gladness." 

Under Beer's guidance, the constitution of Chas- 
sidism remained apparently in the same form as 
under his predecessor: fervent, convulsive praying, 
inspiration (Hithlahabuth), miraculous cures, and 
revelations of the future. But as these actions did 
not, as with Israel, flow from a peculiar or abnormal 
state of mind, they could only be imitated artifice 
or illusion had to supply what nature withheld. It 
was an accepted fact that the Chassidean leader, or 
Zaddik, the perfectly pious man, had to be enthu- 
siastic in prayer, had to have ecstatic dreams and 
visions. How can a clever plotter appear inspired? 
Alcohol, so much liked in Poland, now had to take 
the place of the inspiring demon. Beer had not 
the knowledge of remedial herbs, which his teacher 
had obtained in the Carpathian mountains. He, 
therefore, devoted himself to medicine, and if his 
remedies did not avail, then the sick person died of 
his sinfulness. To predict the future was a more 

CH* IX. THE "ZADDIK." 38! 

difficult task, yet it had to be accomplished; his 
reputation as a thaumaturgist depended upon it. 
Beer was equal to the emergency. Among his in- 
timates were expert spies, worthy of serving in the 
secret police. They discovered many secrets, and 
told them to their leader ; thus he was enabled to 
assume ^ an appearance of omniscience, Or his 
emissaries committed robberies ; if the victims 
came to the c< Saint " in his hermitage to find them 
out, he was able to indicate the exact spot where 
the missing articles were lying. If strangers, at- 
tracted by his fame, came to see him, they were not 
admitted, as mentioned, until the following Satur- 
day, to take part in the Chassidean witches* Sabbath. 
Meantime his spies, by artful questions and other 
means, gleaned a knowledge of the affairs and se- 
cret desires of these strangers, and communicated 
them to the Zaddik. In the first interview Beer, in 
a seemingly casual manner, was able, in a skillfully 
arranged discourse, to bring in allusions to these 
strangers, whereby they would be convinced that he 
had looked into their hearts, and knew their past. 
By these and similar contrivances, he succeeded in 
asserting himself as omniscient, and increasing- the 
number of his followers. Every new convert testi- 
fied to his Divine inspiration, and induced others to 

In order to strengthen respect for him, Beer pro- 
pounded a theory, which in its logical application is 
calculated to promote most harmful consequences. 
Supported by the Kabbalistic formula, that "the 
righteous or the pious man is the foundation of the 
world," he magnified the importance of the Zaddik, 
or the Chassidean chief, to such an extent that it 
became blasphemy. "A Zaddik is not alone the 
most perfect and sinless human being, he is not 
alone Moses, but the representative of God and 
His image." All and everything that the Zaddik 
does and thinks has a decided influence upon the 


upper and lower worlds. The Deity reveals Him- 
self especially in the acts of the Zaddik; even his 
most trifling deeds are to be considered important, 
The way he wears his clothes, ties his shoes,, 
smokes his pipe, whether he delivers profound ad- 
dresses, or indulges in silly jokes everything 
bears a close relation to the Deity, and is of as 
much moment as the fulfillment of a religious duty. 
Even when drawing inspiration from the bottle, he 
is swaying the upper and nether worlds. All these 
absurd fancies owed their origin to the supersti- 
tious doctrines of the Kabbala, which, in spite of the 
unspeakable confusion they had wrought through 
Sabbata'i Zevi and Frank, in spite of the opposition 
which their chief exponent, the Zohar, had encoun- 
tered at about this time at the hands of Jacob Em- 
den, still clouded the brains of the Polish Jews, 
According to this theory, the Zaddik, z. <?., Berish 
Mizricz, was the embodiment of power and splendor 
upon earth. In his 4 'Stiibel," or" Hermitage," i. e., 
in his dirty little retired chamber, he considered 
himself as great as the papal vicar of God upon 
earth in his magnificent palace. The Zaddik was 
also to bear himself proudly towards men ; all this 
was 4< for the glory of God." It was a sort of Cath- 
olicism within Judaism. 

Beer's idea, however, was not meant to remain 
idle and unfruitful, but to bring him honor and 
revenue. While the Zaddik cared for the conduct 
of the world, for the obtaining of heavenly grace r 
and especially for Israel's preservation and glorifi- 
cation, his adherents had to cultivate three kinds of 
virtues. It was their duty to draw nigh to him, to 
enjoy the sight of him, and from time to time to 
make pilgrimages to him. Further, they were to 
confess their sins to him. By these means alone 
could they hope for pardon of their iniquities. Fi- 
nally, they had to bring him presents, rich gifts, 
which he knew how to employ to the best advan- 


tage. It was also incumbent upon them to attend 
to his personal wants. It seems like a return to the 
days of the priests of Baal, so vulgar and disgusting 
do these perversities appear. The saddest part of 
all is that this teaching, worthy of a fetish worship- 
ing people^ met with approbation in Poland, the 
country distinguished by cumbersome knowledge of 
Jewish literature. It was just this excess, this over- 
activity of the spiritual digestive apparatus, that 
produced such lamentable phenomena. The intel- 
lect of the Polish Jews had been so over-excited, 
that the coarsest things were more pleasing to them 
than what was refined. 

^ Beer despatched abroad as his apostles bombas- 
tic preachers who seasoned his injurious teachings 
with distorted citations from the Scriptures. Sim- 
ple-minded men, rogues, and idlers, of whom there 
were so many in Poland, attached themselves to the 
new Chassidim ; the first from inclination to enthu- 
siasm and belief in miracles ; the cunning, in order 
to procure money in an easy way, and lead a pleas- 
ant existence; and the idlers, because in the court 
of the Zaddik they found occupation, and gratified 
their curiosity. If such idlers were asked what they 
were thinking of, as they strolled about pipe in 
mouth, they would reply with seriousness, "We are 
meditating upon God." The simple people, how- 
ever, who hoped to win bliss through the Chassi- 
dean discipline, engaged continually in prayer, un- 
til through exhaustion they dropped unconscious. 

Neo-Chassidism was favored by two circum- 
stances, the fraternization of the members and the 
dryness and fossilized character of Talmudic study 
as carried on in Poland for more than a century. 
At the outset the Chassidim formed a kind of 
brotherhood, not indeed with a common purse, as 
among their prototypes, the Essenes and the Judseo- 
Christians, but having regard to the wants of needy 
members. Owing to the closeness of their union, 


their spying system, and their energy, it was easy 
for them to provide for those who lacked employ- 
ment or food. On New Year and the Day of 
Atonement people, even those who dwelt at^ long 
distances, undertook pilgrimages to the Zaddik, as 
formerly to the Temple, and left their^ wives and 
children to pass the so-called holy days in the com- 
pany of their chief, to be edified by his presence and 
actions. Here the Chassidean disciples learned to 
know one another, discussed local affairs, and ren- 
dered mutual help. Well-to-do merchants found 
opportunity at these assemblies, in conversation 
with fellow-believers, upon whose fidelity and broth- 
erly attachment they could rely, to discover fresh 
sources of income. Fathers of marriageable daugh- 
ters sought and easily found husbands for them, 
which at that time in Poland was considered a highly 
important matter. The common meals on the 
afternoons of Saturdays and the holidays strength- 
ened the bonds of loyalty and affection among 
them. How could meals for so many guests be 
provided ? The wealthy Chassidim regarded it as 
a duty to support the Zaddik liberally. A special 
source of income was the superstitious belief pre- 
valent among the Chassidim that the Zaddik for 
certain sums (Pidion, Redemption) could ward off 
threatening perils and cure deadly diseases. Pres- 
sure was brought to bear upon wealthy but weak- 
minded persons, and they were terrified into be- 
lieving that they could escape impending calamities 
only by rich gifts. Whoever desired to enter upon 
a hazardous transaction consulted the Zaddik as an 
oracle, and had to pay for his counsel. The cunning 
Chassidim knew everything, were ready with counsel 
in any emergency, and by their craftiness were 
able to afford real assistance. The Zaddik, how- 
ever miserly he might be, had to assist the poor 
and distressed with his revenues. Thus ev- 
ery member received help here. Full of enthu- 


siasm they returned home from their journey; 
the feeling that they belonged to a brotherhood 
elevated them, and they ardently looked forward 
to the return of the holy time. The poor and 
forsaken, the fanatical and the unprincipled, could 
not do better than join this union, this easy-going 
yet religious order. 

Earnest men, also, desirous of satisfying their 
spiritual wants, felt themselves attracted to the 
Chassidim. Rabbinical Judaism, as known in Po- 
land, offered no sort of religious comfort. Its rep- 
resentatives placed the highest value upon the dia- 
lectic, artificial exposition of the Talmud and its 
commentaries. Actual necessity had besides caused 
that portion of the Talmud which treated of civil 
law to be closely studied, as the rabbis exercised 
civil jurisdiction over their flocks. Fine-spun decis- 
ions of new, complicated legal points occupied the 
doctors of the Talmud day and night. Moreover, 
this hair-splitting was considered sublimest piety, 
and superseded everything else. If any one solved 
an intricate Talmudic question, or discovered 
something new, called Torah, he felt self-satis- 
fied, and assured of his felicity hereafter. All other 
objects, the impulse to devotion, prayer, and emo- 
tion, or interest in the moral condition of the com- 
munity, were* secondary matters, to which scarcely 
any attention was paid. The mental exercise of 
making logical deductions from the Talmud, or 
more correctly from the laws of Mine and Thine, 
choked all other intellectual pursuits in Poland. 
Religious ceremonies had degenerated, both 
amongst Talmudists and the unlearned, into mean- 
ingless usages, and prayer into mere lip-service. 
To men of feeling this aridity of Talmudic study, 
together with the love of debate, and the dogma- 
tism and pride of the rabbis arising from it, were 
repellent, and they flung themselves into the arms 
of the new order, which allowed so much play for 


the fancy and the emotions. Especially preachers, 
semi-Talmudists who were looked upon and treated 
by erudite rabbi-Talmudists as inferior and con- 
temptible, who eked out a " wretched living, or 
almost starved, leagued themselves with the neo- 
Chassidim, because among them their talents of 
preaching were appreciated, and they could obtain 
an honorable position, and be secured against need. 
By the accession of such elements the circle of neo- 
Chassidim became daily augmented. Almost in 
every town lived followers of the new school, who 
occasionally had intercourse with their brother- 
members and their chief. 

With advancing strength the antipathy of the 
neo-Chassidim to the rabbis and Talmudists in- 
creased. Without being aware of it they formed a 
new sect, which scorned intercourse with the Tal- 
mud Jews. With Beer at their head, they felt 
themselves strong enough to introduce an innova- 
tion, which would naturally bring down the anger of 
the rabbis upon them. Since prayer and the rites 
of Divine service were the chief consideration for 
them, they did not trouble themselves about the 
prescriptions of the ritual law as to how many 
prayers should be said, nor at what time the differ- 
ent services should commence and terminate, but 
were entirely guided by the feeling of the moment. 
Through their daily ablutions, baths, and other prep- 
arations for public worship they were seldom ready 
for prayer at the prescribed time, but began later, 
prolonged it by the movements of their bodies and 
their intoning, and suddenly came to an end after 
omitting several portions. They were especially 
averse to the harsh interpolations in the Sabbath 
and festival prayers (the Piyutim). These inser- 
tions interrupt the most important and suggestive 
portions of the service. To abolish these at a 
blow, Beer Mizricz introduced the prayer-book of 
the arch-Kabbalist, Isaac Lurya, which for the 



greater part conforms to the Portuguese ritual, and 
does not contain poetical (poetanic) additions. In 
the eyes of the" ultra-orthodox this innovation was 
an enormous, or rather a double crime, permitting, 
as it did, the omission of interpolations hallowed by 
custom, and the exchange of the German ritual for 
the Sephardic. 

This innovation would probably have been se- 
verely visited upon the neo-Chassidim, but that at 
this time, when the political power of Poland lay 
crushed, the firm political connection of the Polish 
Jews had also been dissolved. Poland was dis- 
tracted by civil war. " In this country," as the 
Primate of Gnesen complained at the opening of the 
Reichstag, March, 1764, "freedom is oppressed, the 
laws are not obeyed, justice cannot be obtained, 
trade is utterly ruined, districts and villages are de- 
vastated, the treasury is empty, and the coin of the 
realm has no value." It had been enfeebled by the 
Jesuits, and was already regarded by Russia as a 
sure prey. Its king Stanislaus Augustus Ponia- 
towski was a weakling, the plaything of internal 
factions and external foes (September, 1764). In 
the first year of his reign, Poniatowski among other 
laws issued a regulation which destroyed the com- 
munal union of the Polish Jews. The synod of the 
Four Countries, composed of delegates, rabbis and 
laymen (Parnassim), with authority to pronounce 
interdicts and levy fines, was not permitted to as- 
semble, pass resolutions, or execute them. 

The dissolution of the synod was very fortunate 
for the neo-Chassidim. They could not be excom- 
municated by the representatives of the Polish Jew- 
ish world, but each individual congregation had to 
proceed against them and forbid their meetings. 
Even this step was not taken at once, as the terri- 
ble death-struggle in which Poland engaged before 
its first partition was severely felt by the wealthy 
Jews, who trembled for their lives. The Confeder- 


ation War broke out, which made many districts a 
desert ; Poland was punished by eternal Justice in 
the same way as it had sinned. In the name of the 
pope and the Jesuits it had always persecuted dis- 
senters, and excluded them from public offices, 
and, in the name of the dissenters, Catherine 
plunged the land into fratricidal war. The Rus- 
sians, for the second time, let loose against Poland 
the Zaporogian Cossacks^ the savage Haidamaks 
who inflicted death, by every known method, upon 
the Polish nobles, the clergy, and the Jews. The 
Haidamaks hung up together a nobleman, a Jew, a 
monk, and a dog, with the mocking inscription, 
"All are equal/' Most inhuman cruelties were in- 
flicted upon captives and the defenseless. In ad- 
dition came the Turks, who, in the guise of saviours 
of Poland, murdered and plundered on every side. 
The Ukraine, Podolia, in general the southern pro- 
vinces of Poland, were turned into deserts. 

These misfortunes were more advantageous than 
injurious to the neo-Chassidim. They spread in 
the north, and whilst hitherto they had been able to 
carry on their cult only in small, comparatively 
young communities, from this time they gained 
.ground in the large and old congregations. Their 
numbers had already grown to such an extent that 
they formed two branches the Mizriczians and the 
Karlinians the former called after their original 
home, the latter after the village of Karlin, near 
Pinsk. The Karlinians spread as far as Wilna and 
Brody. At first they proceeded cautiously. As 
soon as at least ten persons had assembled, they 
looked for a room (Stiibel) in which to conduct their 
services ; there they practiced the rites of their 
creed, and sought to gain new adherents; but all 
this was skillfully done, so that nothing came to 
light before they had secured a firm foothold. In 
Lithuania their system was not yet known, and thus 
at first they aroused no suspicion. 


The first violent attack upon them was made by 
a man whose influence was blessed during his life- 
time, and even after death, and who, in a more fav- 
orable environment, might, like Mendelssohn, have 
effected much for the moral advancement of his co- 
religionists. Elijah Wilna (born 1720; died 1797), 
whose name, Avith the title of " Gaon," is still men- 
tioned by the Lithuanian Jews with reverence and 
love, was a rare exception among the mass of the 
Polish Jews. He was of the purest character, and 
possessed high talents, which he did not put to per- 
verted uses. It suffices to say of his character that 
in spite of his comprehensive and profound Tal- 
mudical erudition, he refused a post as rabbi, in 
contrast to most scholars in Poland, who were 
office-seekers, and obtained rabbinates by artifice. 
In spite of the marvelous fertility of his pen in 
many domains of Jewish literature, he allowed 
nothing to be published during his lifetime, again in 
contradistinction to contemporary students, who, in 
order to make a name and to see their ideas in 
print, scarcely waited till the ink of their composi- 
tions was dry. In his disinterestedness, Elijah 
Wilna realized the ideal of the Talmud, that a 
teacher of Judaism "should use the Law neither as 
a crown to adorn himself therewith, nor as a spade 
to dig therewith." In spite of the superiority of his 
knowledge and the full and general recognition ac- 
corded him, he modestly and conscientiously avoided 
asserting himself. The gratification that results 
from research, from the seeking of knowledge, com- 
pletely satisfied him. His intellectual method cor- 
responded in its unaffected simplicity with his char- 
acter and life. As a matter of course, the Talmud 
and all the branches connected with or dependent 
on it filled his mind. But he disliked the corrupt 
method of his countrymen, who indulged in hair- 
splitting, casuistry, and subtleties. His sole aim 
was to penetrate to the simple sense of the text ; 


he even made an attempt at the critical examina- 
tion and emendation of texts, and by his undistorted 
explanations he blew down the houses of cards 
which the subtle Talmudists had erected upon 

It required extraordinary mental force to swim 
against the high tide of custom and rise above the 
aberrations into which all the sons of the Talmud in 
Poland had fallen. In point of fact Elijah Wilna 
stood isolated in his time. It seemed as though 
from his youth he had been afraid of following the 
errors of his compatriots, for he attached himself to 
no special school, but, strange to say, was his own 
teacher in the Talmud. Talmudical studies did not 
exclusively occupy his mind. Elijah Wilna devoted 
great attention to the Bible a rarity in his circle 
and, what was still more unusual, he acquainted 
himself with the grammar of the Hebrew language. 
Unlike his compatriots, he by no means despised a 
knowledge of extra-Talmudic subjects, but studied 
mathematics, and wrote a book upon geometry, 
algebra, and mathematical astronomy. He exhorted 
his disciples and friends to interest themselves in 
profane sciences, and openly expressed his convic- 
tion that Judaism would be the gainer from such 
studies. Only his scrupulous piety, his immaculate 
conduct, his unselfishness, and his renunciation of 
every office and position of honor, saved him from 
the charge of heresy on account of his pursuing 
extra-Talmudical branches of knowledge. 

Elijah Wilna, above all, implanted a good spirit 
in the Lithuanian Jews. He taught his sons and 
disciples to seek simplicity and avoid the casuistry 
of the Polish method. . In Elijah Wilna the beau- 
tiful Talmudical saying was exemplified, " He who 
flees from honors is sought out by them." At an 
early age he was recognized, even outside of Poland, 
as an authority and a man of truth. Yet even 
Elijah was subject to the delusion that the hateful 


Kabbala was a true daughter of Judaism, and con- 
tained true elements. He deeply lamented the 
moral ruin wrought by the Kabbala among Podol- 
ian and Galician Jews, through the rascally Frank, 
who had driven them into the arms of the Church, 
and made them enemies to the Synagogue ; yet he 
could not free himself from it. Even when the 
danger of these false doctrines was brought home 
to him by the rise of the Chassidim, and he was 
compelled openly to oppose them, he could not 
relinquish his blind fondness for the Kabbala. 

The neo-Chassidim, or Karlinians, had crept into 
Wilna, and had established a secret "Stiibel" for 
their noisy conventicles. A trusty friend of their 
leader, and an emissary sent by him, had stealthily 
introduced their cult into the town, and won over 
several members of the Wilna community. Their 
meetings, their proceedings, and their derision of 
the Talmudists, were betrayed. The whole congre- 
gation were greatly excited at this. They were 
indignant , that the Karlinians impudently asserted 
of the respected Elijah Wilna, that, like his occupa- 
tion and his belief, his life was a lie. The elders 
and rabbis forthwith took counsel. The Chassidic 
conventicles were straightway attacked, investiga- 
tions set on foot, and trials instituted. Writings 
were found among the Chassidim, which contained 
the principle that all sadness was to be avoided, 
even in the repentance for sins. But greatest un- 
easiness was aroused by the alterations in the lit- 
urgy and the disrespectful utterances against the 
rabbis. Elijah Wilna, who, although he filled no 
official position, was always invited to the council 
meetings, and had an important voice in its decis- 
ions, took a very serious view of the matter. He 
beheld in the Chassidic aberration a continuation of 
Frank's excesses and corrupting influence. The 
otherwise gentle and meek man became a veritable 
fanatic. The rabbis and the chiefs of the commu- 


nity, together with Elijah Wilna, addressed a letter 
to all the large communities, directing them to keep 
a sharp eye upon the Chassidim, and to excommu- 
nicate them until they abandoned their erroneous 
views. Several congregations immediately obeyed 
this injunction. In Brody, during the fair, in the 
presence of many strangers, the ban was published 
against all those who prayed noisily, deviated from 
the German synagogue ritual, wore white robes on 
Sabbath and the festivals, and were guilty of other 
strange customs and innovations. Elijah Wilna's 
circle launched a vigorous denunciatory pamphlet 
against the offenders. This was the first blow that 
the Chassidim experienced. In addition, their 
leader, BeerMizricz, died in the same year (1772) 
the rabbis imagined in consequence of the excom- 
munication and thus they felt themselves utterly 
deserted. Owing to the weakness of the king, and 
the greed of the neighboring nations, the kingdom 
of Poland was dismembered. Through this disor- 
ganization the union of the Chassidim was broken, 
and the separated members became dependent 
upon the legislature, or the arbitrary treatment, of 
various governments. 

However, this storm did not crush them ; they 
remained firm, and did not display the slightest 
sign of submitting to their opponents (Mithnagdim). 
On the contrary, the struggle made them more 
active and energetic. They were not deeply 
moved by the ban under which they had been 
placed; this weapon, blunted since the contest for 
and against Jonathan Eibeschtitz, could no longer 
inflict wounds. The Chassidim, grown to the num- 
ber of fifty or sixty thousand, formed themselves 
into small groups, each with a leader, called Rebbe. 
Their itinerant preachers encouraged the individual 
communities to persevere in their tenets, and to 
accept persecution as a salutary trial. The connec- 
tion of the groups with one another was maintained 


in this way ; a chief from the family of Beer Miz- 
ricz was placed at the head as the supreme Zaddik, 
to whom the various Rebbe were subordinate, and 
for whose use they were to set aside a portion of 
their income. The possible apostasy of members 
through the onslaughts from Wilna was met by the 
order that the Chassidim might read no work that 
had not received the approval of the Chassidic 
authorities. Obedience towards their leaders had 
taken so deep a root in the minds of the Chassi- 
dim that they never transgressed this prohibition. 
Their chiefs distributed among them the sermons 
or collections of sayings supposed to have been 
written by Israel Baalshem, or Beer Mizricz, which 
emphasized the high importance of the Zaddik, of 
the Chassidic life, and of scorn for the Talmudists 
vile writings, which were nevertheless read with ad- 
miration by the members, who were kept in a con- 
stant state of intoxication. What had hitherto been 
optional and individual was raised by these writings 
to the rank of statutes and stringent laws. 

After Beer's death, two men chiefly contributed 
to the exaltation of Chassidism, one through his 
unbounded enthusiasm, the other by his scholarship. 
These men, neither of whom is open to suspicion, 
were Israel of Kozieniza (north of Radom) and 
Salman of Liadi, both Beer's disciples. 

So strong did the Chassidim again become, that 
a second interdict had to be fulminated against 
them. This time also the persecution originated in 
Wilna, and was instigated by Elijah Wilna. The 
Chassidim were declared to be heretics, with whom 
no pious Jew might intermarry (summer of 1781). 
Two messengers were sent from Wilna to the Lith- 
uanian congregations to induce them to support the 
ban. In consequence of this, the collections of 
Chassidic sermons and other writings, although they 
contained sentences from Holy Writ, were publicly 
burnt in Brody and Cracow. In Selvia, near 


Slonim, during the fair, in the presence of large 
numbers of Jews, the ban was publicly promulgated 
against the Chassidim and their writings (August 
21, 1781); but these obsolete methods were of little 
use. In the Austrian Polish provinces (Galicia) 
other means were employed by the disciples of the 
Mendelssohn school against the stultifying system 
of the Chassidim. The decree of Joseph II, that 
schools for instruction in German and elementary 
subjects be established in all Jewish communities, 
encountered vigorous resistance from all Jews, 
but especially from Chassidim. In the belief that 
culture would improve the demoralized and bar- 
barous state of the people, a small body of men, 
Mendelssohn's admirers, strove zealously to oppose 
them. Among the most ardent workers for the 
enlightenment of the Galician Jews was Alexander 
Kaller Kaller and his associates probably ob- 
tained a decree from the court at Vienna, com- 
manding that no Chassidic or Kabbalistic writings 
be admitted into Galicia (1785). After the second 
partition of Poland, denunciations were also leveled 
against the Chassidim in Russian Poland as dan- 
gerous to the state. Salman of Liadi was dragged 
in chains to St. Petersburg, Elijah Wilna is said to 
have been the instigator of this charge, too ; indeed, 
he persecuted the sect as long as he lived. After 
his death the Chassidim took vengeance upon him 
by dancing upon his grave, and celebrating the day 
of his decease as a holiday, with shouting and 
drunkenness. All efforts made to suppress the 
Chassidim were in vain, because in a measure they 
represented a just principle, that of opposing the 
excesses of Talmudism. Before the end of the 
eighteenth century they had increased to 100,000 
souls. At the present day they rule in congrega- 
tions where they were formerly persecuted, and they 
are spreading on all sides. 



The Progressionists The Gatherer (Meassef) David Mendes 
Moses Ensheim Wessely's Mosaid Marcus Herz Solomon 
Maimon Culture of the Berlin Jews Influence of French Liter- 
ature First Step for Raising the Jews The Progressive and 
Orthodox Parties The Society of Friends Friedlander and 
Conversion Depravity of Berlin Jewesses Henrietta Herz 
Humboldt Dorothea Mendelssohn Schlegel Rachel Schlei- 
ermacher Chateaubriand. 

17861791 c. E. 

The state of the German Jews, among whom the 
battle against unreason began, was more satisfac- 
tory than that of the Polish Jews. In Germany 
youthful activity and energy asserted themselves, 
an impulse to action that promised to repair in a 
short space of time the neglect of centuries. Great 
enthusiasm suddenly sprang up, which produced 
wonderful, or at least surprising, results, and over- 
came the benumbing effects of apathy. Young men 
tore the scepter from the grasp of the aged, and 
desired to preach new wisdom, or rather to reju- 
venate the old organism of Judaism with new sap. 
The synagogue might well have exclaimed, "Who 
hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my 
children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing 
to and fro? and who hath brought up these?" A 
new spirit had come upon these youths, which, in 
one night, put an end to their isolation, and trans- 
formed them into organs for historical reconstruc- 
tion. As if by agreement they suddenly closed the 
ponderous folios of the Talmud, turned away from 
it, and devoted themselves to the Bible, the eternal 
fount of youth. Mendelssohn's Pentateuch trans- 
lation poured out a new spirit over them, furnished 



them with a new language, and infused new poetry 
into them. Whence this body of spirited young 
men ? What had hitherto been their course of edu- 
cation ? Why were they so powerfully influenced ? 
Suddenly they made their appearance, prophesied a 
new future, without knowing exactly what they pro- 
phesied, and, scarce fledged, soared aloft. From 
Poland to Alsace, from Italy to Amsterdam, London, 
and Copenhagen, new voices were heard, singing in 
harmonious union. Their significance lay wholly in 
their harmony ; singly, the voices appear thin, pip- 
ing, and untrained ; only when united do they give 
forth a pleasant and impressive tone. Those who 
had but recently learnt to appreciate the beauties of 
Hebrew, came forward as teachers, to re-establish 
. in its purity a language, so greatly disfigured, so 
generally used, and so continually abused. Inspired 
by ideals which the sage of Berlin had conjured up, 
they desired to pave the way to a thorough under- 
standing of Holy Writ, to acquire a taste for poetry, 
and awaken zeal for science. Carried away by 
ardor, they ignored the difficulties in the way of a 
people, internally and externally enslaved, which 
seeks to raise itself to the heights of poetry and 
philosophy, and therefore they succeeded in accom- 
plishing the revival. On the whole they achieved 
more than Mendelssohn, their admired prototype, 
because the latter was too cautious to take a step 
that might have an untoward result. But these 
youths pressed boldly forward, for they had no 
reputation to lose, and represented no interests 
that could be compromised. 

This result was produced by a material and an 
ideal circumstance. Frederick's eagerness for 
money, his desire to enrich the land, almost com- 
pelled the Jews, especially those of Berlin, to accu- 
mulate capital. Owing to their manufactories, 
speculations, and enormous enterprises on the one 
hand, and their moderate manner of living on the 


other, the first Jewish millionaires arose in Berlin, 
and by their side many houses in affluent circum- 
stances. But what could be done with these riches ? 
To the nobility and the court, Jews were not ad- 
mitted ; the Philistine burghers closed their doors 
against these Jewish upstarts, whom they regarded 
with envy. There thus remained for wealthy Jews 
only literary intercourse, for which they have always 
had a preference. All or the majority had in their 
youth made the acquaintance of the Talmud, and 
were intimate with the world of books. This cir- 
cumstance gave their efforts an ideal character : they 
did not worship Mammon alone ; reading in their 
leisure hours was a necessity to them. As soon as 
German literature had been naturalized in their 
midst through Mendelssohn, they included it in 
their circle of studies, either with the serious object 
of cultivating themselves or to be in accord with 
fashion. In this matter they excelled the Christian 
citizens, who as a rule did not care for books. 
Jewish merchants, manufacturers, and bankers in- 
terested themselves in literary productions, as if 
they belonged to a guild of learned men, using for 
them the time that Christian citizens and workmen 
passed in drinking. 

The first movement was made in Konigsberg, a 
kind of colony to Berlin. In this town certain men 
had acquired wealth by their industry and circum- 
spection, and shared in the culture dawning in Ger- 
many under the influence of French literature. 
Three brothers named Friedlander (Barmann, 
Meyer, and Wolf) were the leaders. To this family 
belonged David Friedlander (born 1750, died 1834), 
a servile imitator of Mendelssohn, who by means of 
his connection by marriage with the banking-house 
of Daniel Itzig, obtained influence in Berlin (since 
1771), and brought about close intercourse between 
Berlin and Konigsberg. He also took part in the 
promotion of the revival among Jews, It was an 


event in the history of the Konigsberg jews, when 
Mendelssohn stayed there for several days while on 
a business journey. He was visited by distin- 
guished persons, professors and authors, and was 
treated with extraordinary attention. Immanuel 
Kant, the profound thinker, publicly embraced him. 
This trifling occurrence gave to the cultured Jews 
of Konigsberg a sort of consciousness that the Jew 
can by self-respect command the regard of the rul- 
ing classes. Moreover, the Konigsberg University, 
at the instigation of certain liberal-minded teachers, 
especially Kant, admitted Jewish youths thirsting 
for knowledge as students and academical citizens. 
Among these young men, trained partly on Tal- 
rnudical, partly on academical lines, there were two 
\vho awakened a new spirit, or rather, continued 
the quiet activity of Mendelssohn with greater 
effect. These were Isaac Abraham Euchel and 
Mendel Bresselau, both tutors employed by the 
wealthy, culture-loving Friedlanders. Isaac Euchel, 
through Mendelssohn and Wessely, had acquired a 
dignified, correct Hebrew style contrasting most 
favorably with the corrupt language hitherto em- 
ployed. His younger companion, Mendel Bresselau, 
\\ho afterwards took part in the great contest 
against the old school, was of more importance. 
He was truly an artist in. the Hebrew tongue, and 
without elaboration or ambiguity he applied biblical 
phraseology to modern conditions and circum- 
stances. He took as his model the poet Moses 
Chayim Luzzatto, and like him composed a moral 
drama, entitled " Youth." Supported by two young 
members of the wealthy Friedlander family, Euchel 
and Bresselau, during the lifetime of Mendelssohn, 
and at the time of Wessely's conflict with the ultra- 
orthodox (spring, 1783), issued a summons to the 
whole Jewish world to establish a society for the 
promotion of the Hebrew language (Chebrath 
Dorshe Leshon Eber), and to found a journal to be 

CH. X. HA-MEASSEF., 399 

called "The Gatherer" (Meassef). They had 
reckoned upon the support of Wessely, already 
recognized as an authority upon style, and had 
asked contributions from him, who, as they ex- 
pressed themselves, "had taken down the harps 
from the willows of Babylon, and had drawn forth 
new songs from them." The aged poet gladly 
joined the young men, but, as if he had had a fore- 
boding of the ultimate result, he warned them 
against turning their darts against Judaism, and 
in general against employing satire. Their sum- 
mons found widespread response. They had 
chosen the right means to advance culture, and they 
satisfied a real want. The Hebrew language in its 
purity and chastity could alone accomplish the 
union between Judaism and the culture of the day. 
"The Gatherer" found most encouragement in 
Berlin, the capital of Jewish culture. Here numer- 
ous literary contributions and material support 
were forthcoming. In this city lived a number of 
youths moved by the same aspirations as Euchel 
and Bresselau, who fostered enthusiasm for the 
Hebrew language, and renewed its youth. Not too 
proud to enter into rivalry with beginners, Men- 
delssohn also contributed a few Hebrew poems 
anonymously. It is characteristic of the newly- 
aroused spirit, that the fine introductory Hebrew 
verses in the periodical are represented as being 
written by a young child who modestly begs ad- 
mittance, as if henceforth, not the grey-headed 
Eliphaz, but the youthful Elihu was to be spokes- 
man, and lay down the law. Fresh names ap- 
peared in the newly-established organ, and their 
owners, under the collective name of Measfim, con- 
tributors to "The Gatherer" (Meassef, first pub- 
lished in the autumn of 1783), mark a definite 
tendency, a Sturm wtd Drang period of neo- 
Hebraic literature. Another pair of friends of 
Euchel and Bresselau afterwards undertook the 


editorship ; these were Joel Lowe and Aaron Halle, 
or Wolfssohn the one an earnest inquirer, the 
other a bold iconoclast, who first verified Wessely's 
fears, and, in a dialogue between Moses Maimon- 
ides and Moses Mendelssohn, subjected unpro- 
gressive Judaism to scathing criticism. 

Two Poles residing in Berlin, Isaac Satanow and 
Ben-Zeeb, most accomplished masters of Hebrew 
style, also belonged to the Measfim, but their stud- 
ies in German culture had an injurious effect upon 
their moral character. Besides, the small number 
of contributors to the "Gatherer" was swelled by 
Wolf Heidenheim, a strange man, who equally ab- 
horred the crudeness and folly of the old system, 
and the frivolity and sophistry of the new, and 
banished his ill-humor by pedantically exact gram- 
matical and Masoretic studies on the lines of the 
old masters. By his carefully arranged editions of 
old writings, if he did not destroy, he at least 
curbed, the old habits of slovenliness and care- 

The cultivators of Hebrew stretched out friendly 
hands to each other across widely-sundered districts, 
and formed a kind of brotherhood which spread to 
Holland, France, and Italy. David Friedrichsfeld 
was also an enthusiast for the Hebrew language 
and biblical literature. He possessed such delicate 
appreciation of the beauties of the language, that 
an ill-chosen Hebrew word caused him pain. He 
constantly insisted upon pure forms and expres- 
sions, and was a cultivated and severe judge. In 
his youth, Friedrichsfeld had chosen the better fate, 
by turning his back upon Prussia, so cruel to the 
Jews, and emigrating to the free city of Amsterdam. 
He heartily welcomed, with youthful ardor, the plan 
for the study of Hebrew, and lived to enjoy the 
good fortune of celebrating in Hebrew verse -the 
complete emancipation of the Jews in Holland. At 
his proposition, the Jewish poets in Holland joined 


the ranks of the Measfim. The most renowned was 
David Franco Mendes in Amsterdam (born 1713; 
died 1792). He was descended from a Marrano 
family, was a disciple of the poet Luzzatto when the 
latter lived in Amsterdam, and took him as a pat- 
tern. A, series of occasional poems, in the form of 
the Judseo-Spanish poetry of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, had gained him a name which was increased 
by his Hebrew historical drama, " The Punishment 
of Athalia" (Gemul Athalia). It distressed Franco 
Mendes to see how the Jews turned away from 
Hebrew to the fashionable French literature, be- 
cause the latter produced beautiful, artistic works, 
whilst the Hebrew language seemed smitten with 
sterility. This disgrace Mendes desired to blot 
out, and, following in the wake of Racine and 
Metastasio, he undertook to dramatize the interest- 
ing history of the royal boy Joash who, to be pro- 
tected from murderous hands, was brought up 
secretly in the Temple, and of the downfall of the 
bloodthirsty queen Athalia. 

In France the Hebrew literature of the Measfim 
was represented by Moses Ensheim (Einsheim), or 
Moses Metz, who for several years was private 
tutor to Mendelssohn's children. He was a ma- 
thematician of great repute, whose work has been 
praised by qualified authorities of the first rank. 
Thus he wrote a work upon Integral and Differen- 
tial Calculus, which won the applause of Lagrange 
and Laplace. But he never published any of his 
writings. He only gave voice to triumphal songs 
in Hebrew upon the victory of freedom over slavery 
in France, and some of these were sung in the 
synagogues. Ensheim influenced an advocate 
(Gregoire) of the liberation of his co-religionists in 
France, and provided him with material wherewith 
to defend them. Ensheim formed a contrast to an 
older teacher in Mendelssohn's house, Herz Hom- 
berg, a great favorite with Mendelssohn. The 


latter was deceived in him, and trusted in him too far 
when he invited his co-operation in the Pentateuch 
translation. Homberg was of a prosaic nature, 
actuated wholly by selfish motives, and was some- 
what of a place-hunter. Through Homberg, during 
his stay in Gorz, and Elijah Morpurgo, who corres- 
ponded with Mendelssohn and Wessely, the educa- 
tional influence of the Measfim penetrated to Italy ; 
and the younger generation, which afterwards 
united with the French Jews, drew inspiration from 
that source. 

In this manner, the Hebrew language and neo- 
Hebraic poetry became a bond of union for the 
Jews of Western Europe, to some extent embracing 
also the Jews of Poland, and led the way to an 
astonishingly swift and enduring revival. The He- 
brew tongue was known to almost all Jews, with'the 
exception of a few ignorant villagers, and afforded 
an excellent medium for propagating European cul- 
ture. Thousands of youths who studied the Talmud 
in various colleges, gradually, for the greater part 
secretly, took an active share in the movement, and 
drank deep draughts from the stream of innovation. 
Thus, with the expected deliverance from political 
oppression, which had already been realized in var- 
ious places, there arose a peculiar excitement and 
confusion. The old and the new mingled, forming 
a kind of a spiritual hotch-potch. The question was 
raised whether or not, beside the Talmud, it was 
allowed to engage in biblical studies and profane 
literature, to cultivate philosophy, and m general to 
study the sciences (Chochmoth). The great rabbis, 
Ezekiel Landau, Raphael Cohen, and others, con- 
demned such studies, whilst Mendelssohn and 
Wessely, blamelessly pious men, not only permitted, 
but even recommended them for the elevation of 
Judaism. Of the old and respected authorities, 
some permitted them and even occupied themselves 
therewith, whilst others prohibited and held aloof 

CH X. " THE LEFT." 403 

from them, as from some seductive sin. These im- 
portant questions presented themselves to thinking 
Jewish young men, and gave rise to much dis- 
quietude. For the greater number the charm of 
novelty, the attractive language of the representa- 
tives of the new tendency, or the inclination to cast 
off burdensome ritual fetters decided the question. 
The number of those interested in the periodical, 
"The Gatherer," increased from year to year. 
The death of Mendelssohn also exerted a decided 
influence. His pupils as . such, all the Measfim 
regarded themselves deified him, glorified him 
in bright colors, idealized him and his eventful 
history in prose and verse, pointed him out as an 
ideal worthy of imitation, and turned his renown 
to advantage in their cause. They went a step 
further, or widened the extent of their activity, aim- 
ing not merely at ennobling the Hebrew language, 
but at refinement in general. They called them- 
selves fl The Society for the Good and the Noble " 
(from 1787), without being able to define their pur- 
pose. The all-powerful stream of innovation could 
not be stemmed by the adherents of the old school. 
Unskillfully they attempted to vindicate the old 
system, exaggerating the dangers, and thereby 
losing all influence. 

Thus in almost every large community, there 
arose a party of the " Enlightened " or " the Left," 
which had not yet broken with the old school, but 
whose action bordered upon secession. By the 
ultra-orthodox they were denounced as heretics, on 
account of their preference for pure language and 
form, both in Hebrew and European literature. 
This abusive name hurt them but little, and rather 
afforded them a certain amount of satisfaction. 
The outcome of the work of the Measfim was that 
they stirred men's minds, extending their range of 
observation, and leading them to ennobling thoughts 
and acts ; but these writers did not leave any 


permanent results. Not a single production of the 
circle has enduring value. Their best performance 
was Wessely's swan-song, which possesses literary, 
if not artistic worth. Roused perhaps by the aston- 
ishment of Herder, the admirer of ancient Hebrew 
poetry, that no poet had celebrated the miracles of 
the departure from Egypt whose center was the 
sublime prophet Moses Wessely determined to 
compose a neo- Hebraic epic. Animated by the 
spirit of the prophets, there poured from his pen 
smooth, well-rounded, euphonious verses, which 
unroll before the eye the grand events that occurred 
from.the cruel bondage in Egypt till the miraculous 
passage of the Red Sea and the wanderings in the 
wilderness. " Songs of Glory " Wessely called his 
Hebrew heroic poem, his Mosaid. In fact his verses 
and strophes are beautifully arranged and perfect in 
form. It is the best work that the school of the 
Measfim produced. Wessely's epic was so much 
admired that two Christian poets, Hufnagel and 
Spalding, rendered the first two cantos into German. 
The Mosaid is, however, by no means a masterpiece; 
it lacks the breath of true poetry, fancy and loftiness 
of conception. It is merely a history of the origin 
of the Israelites transcribed into verse, or, more 
correctly, a versified commentary on the Pentateuch. 
This criticism holds of the school as a whole ; its 
disciples were good neo-Hebraic stylists, but as 
poets their ability was not even mediocre. 

The appearance of the " Gatherer " aroused 
attention in Christian circles. The old assailant of the 
Jews, Michaelis, could not remain silent. Others 
greeted it as the dawn promising a fair day ; it was 
in fact daybreak for the Jewish race. What is the 
distinction of a cultured people ? Next to gentle 
mariners, it consists in taste for harmonious forms 
and in the power to produce artistic creations. 
This taste and power, lost through external oppres- 
sion and internal disorganization, were re-awakened 


among the Jews by the organ of the Measfim. To 
elevate the Jewish race to the rank of the cultured 
nations, nothing new was required ; it was merely 
necessary that a comprehension of the beauties 
and sublimities of their own literature be inculcated. 
In this period, the Jews owned profound phil- 
osophical thinkers, if not of the first, certainly of 
the second rank, who in acuteness of intellect 
almost surpassed Mendelssohn. Three are especi- 
ally to be mentioned, who, though trained in the 
Mendelssohnian system, soon recognized its weak- 
nesses, and directed their minds to new paths: 
these were Marcus Herz, Solomon Maimon, and 
Ben-David, The events of their lives picture on a 
small scale how the Jewish race as a whole worked 
its way from degradation and ignorance to freedom 
and enlightenment. Marcus (Mordecai) Herz (born 
in Berlin, 1747, where he died 1803) was the son 
of poor parents, and his father, like Mendelssohn's, 
supported himself and his family by copying 
Hebrew manuscripts. He received his Talmudical 
education in the school founded by Ephraim Veitel. 
Owing to poverty he was unable in spite of his 
talents to continue his studies, but at fifteen years 
of age was compelled to go to Konigsberg as an 
apprentice. The desire for knowledge soon with- 
drew him from business and led him to the Univer- 
sity, as the Albertina at that time admitted Jewish 
youths to the medical department. Philosophy, 
however, exerted greater attraction upon him. 
Herz was regarded as being gifted with the " keen 
mind peculiar to the Jewish nation." Kant, then 
at work upon his monumental system, saw Herz in 
his audience as often as the medical professors saw 
him in theirs. He distinguished him, drew him 
into the circle of his intimates, and treated him as 
his favorite disciple. When entering upon his 
professorship, according to an absurd and antiquated 
custom Kant had to argue in public upon a philo- 


sophical subject, and found no one better fitted than 
Herz to act as his assistant. Several University 
representatives objected that a Jewish student, 
however talented and superior to his Christian 
companions, should be allowed equal privileges 
with them. Kant, however, insisted upon his 
demand. Pressed by pecuniary difficulties, and 
because a Jew could not receive the degree at the 
Konigsberg University, Herz returned to his native 
town and joined Mendelssohn's circle. He was, 
however, an advocate of the Kantian philosophy. 
He became at the same time a skilled physician, 
and practiced his art with conscientiousness and 
zeal. By his marriage with Henrietta de Lemos, 
he secured a large practice and numerous acquaint- 
ances as assistant-physician to his Portuguese 
father-in-law ; and through his incisive wit and 
versatile knowledge he became a noted personage 
in the Prussian capital. When he delivered philoso- 
phical lectures upon the Kantian philosophy, still 
new and but little understood, many distinguished 
men were among his auditors. Had not progress 
been great, if notabilities sat at the feet of a Jew to 
hear his instruction upon the highest truths, whilst 
men like Michaelis roundly denied all possibility of 
culture in the Jews ? Herz afterwards delivered 
discourses upon physics, and illustrated the mar- 
vellous laws of nature by experimental demonstra- 
tion. These lectures were still more crowded; 
even the Crown Prince (afterwards King Frederick 
William III) and other princes did not disdain to 
enter the house of a Jew and be taught by him. 
His philosophical lucidity, acquired from Kant and 
Mendelssohn, contributed towards rendering his 
lectures upon medicine, as well as upon other sub- 
jects, enjoyable and appreciated. Herz was not, 
however, an independent thinker, able to illumine 
the dark ways of human knowledge' by brilliant 
ideas ; but he succeeded in explaining the profound 



thoughts of others and in making them intelligible 
to the average mind. Through his personality^and 
his social position, Herz deeply influenced not alone 
the culture of Berlin Jews, but also of Christian 

Of the remarkable capacity of Jews for culture, 
Solomon Maimon was a still more striking example! 
This Pole, whose real name was Solomon of 
Lithuania, or of Nieszwiez (born about 1753, died 
1800), rose from the thickest cloud of Polish igno- 
rance to pure philosophical knowledge, attaining 
this height by his unaided efforts, but owing to his 
scepticism, he fell a prey to shocking errors. The 
story of his life is full of travel and restlessness, 
and is a good example of the versatility of Jews. 

As in the case of Mendelssohn, Maimuni's philo- 
sophical religious work, " The Guide of the Per- 
plexed" (More Nebuchim), was the cause of 
Solomon's intellectual awakening. He read the 
book until it became part of him, consequently 
assumed the name of Maimon, swore by the name 
of the Jewish sage whenever evil desire prompted 
him to sin, and conquered by its aid. But whereas 
Mendelssohn reached the right way through Mai- 
muni, Solomon Maimon was led into error, doubt, 
and unbelief, and to the end of his life lived an 
aimless existence. In despair he snatched at the 
Kabbala, wishing to become a Jewish Faust, to 
conjure up spirits who would obtain deep wisdom 
for him ; he also made a pilgrimage to the leader 
of the Chassidim, Beer of Mizricz. But the decep- 
tion practiced disgusted him, and he quickly turned 
away from him. But what was he, with his spirit of 
scepticism, to do in a narrow world of rigid 
orthodoxy ? Continually play the hypocrite ? Rumor 
had carried a report to Poland, that in certain towns 
of Germany a freer religious system prevailed, and 
that more scope for philosophical inquiry was given. 
At this period a Pole felt no scruples in forsaking 


wife, children, and home, and wandering abroad. 
It cost Maimon the less effort, seeing that his wife 
had been thrust upon him when he was a child, and 
it was to his vexation that children were born to 
him. To appease his conscience he deceived him- 
self by the pretext that he would study medicine in 
Germany, and be enabled to maintain himself and 
his family. 

Thus Maimon left Lithuania (spring, 1777), at 
the age of twenty-five, u with a heavy, dirty beard, 
in torn, filthy clothes, his language a jargon com- 
posed of fragments of Hebrew, Judaeo-German, and 
Polish, together with grammatical errors/ 7 as he 
himself says, and in this guise he introduced himself 
to some educated Jews in Konigsberg, saying that 
he desired to devote himself to science. In this 
ragged Pole was a brain full of profound thoughts, 
which, as he grew older, developed into maturity. 
His journey from Konigsberg to Berlin by way of 
Stettin was a succession of pitiful troubles. In 
Berlin the authorities refused to grant him residence. 
Those Poles who had severed themselves from the 
Talmud, and devoted themselves to science, lived 
in the odor of the worst heresy, and often gave 
occasion to suspicion. Maimon was sincere enough 
to admit the justice of this opinion. A moral life, 
activity of any kind, participation in the work of 
mankind, utilization of talent in the conquest of 
nature, man's liberation from the shackles of self- 
interest, the awakening of his moral impulse to act 
for the welfare of his brethren, the realization of the 
heavenly kingdom of justice and beneficent love 
of all these ideals Maimon had no appreciation. 
These were indifferent matters, with which a thinker 
need not trouble himself. In this unsound state of 
mind he shunned all active work; to meditate idly 
and draw up formulas were his. chief occupations. 
He attained no fixed goal in life, but staggered 
from folly to folly, from misery to misery. 


_ To the general public he was first known through 
his " Autobiography/' wherein he revealed the weak 
points of the Polish Jews, to him the only represen- 
tatives of Judaism, as well as his own, with unsparing, 
cynical severity, as some years previously Rousseau 
had done in his " Confessions." He thereby per- 
formed an evil service for his co-religionists. His 
opinions concerning his brethren, originating in 
ill-humor, were accepted to their detriment as 
universal characteristics ; and what he depicted as 
hateful in the Polish Jews was attributed to all Jews. 

This kind of confession was considered extraor- 
dinary, and aroused great attention, in stiff, pedantic 
Germany. The "Autobiography" found its way 
into numerous circles, and gained many readers, 
The two great German poets, Schiller and Goethe, 
were absurdly fond of the cynical philosopher ; 
and Goethe expressed the wish to have him live near 
him* His fame made Maimon neither better nor 
happier, and he did honor to the Jewish race only 
with his mental powers ; in his actions he altogether 
dishonored it. 

The third Jewish thinker of this time, Lazarus 
Ben-David (born in Berlin 1762 ; died there 1832), 
had neither the tragic nor the comic history of 
Maimon. He was a prosaic, pedantic personality, 
who in any German university could have filled the 
chair of logic and mathematics, and year after year 
given the same instruction unabridged and unin- 
creased. For the philosophy of Kant, however, 
Ben-David possessed ardor and enthusiastic devo- 
tion, because he recognized it as the truth, and 
faithfully conformed to its moral principles. This 
philosophy was well suited to Jews, because it 
demanded high power of thought and moral action. 
For this reason Kant, like Aristotle in former days, 
had many Jewish admirers and disciples. Ben- 
David was also learned in the Talmud, and a good 
mathematician. It was perhaps a mistake on his 


part to go to Vienna to lecture upon the Kantian 
philosophy. At first the University permitted his 
discourses in its halls, a Jew lecturing on a phil- 
osophy which denied the right of Catholicism to 
exist ! He soon however had to discontinue them ; 
but Count Harrach offered him his palace as a 
lecture-room. Meeting with obstacles here, too, he 
left the imperial city, continued his discourses in 
Berlin, and for some time acted as editor of a 
journal. Ben-David produced but little impression 
upon the course of Jewish history. 

The German Jews, however, under Mendelssohn's 
inspiration, not only elevated themselves with great 
rapidity to the height of culture, but unmistakably 
promoted the spread of culture in Christian circles. 
Intellectual Jews and Jewesses created in Berlin 
that cultured public tone which has become the dis- 
tinction of this capital, and has influenced the whole 
of Germany. Jews and Jewesses were the first to 
found a salon for intellectual intercourse, in which 
the elements of elevated thought, taste, poetry, and 
criticism mingled together in a graceful, light way, 
and were discussed, and made accessible to men of 
different vocations. The Christian populace of 
Berlin at the time of Frederick the Great and his 
successor greatly resembled that of a petty town. 
The nobility and high dignitaries were too aristo- 
cratic and uneducated to trouble themselves about 
intellectual and social affairs and the outside world. 
For them the court and the petty events of every- 
day life were the world. The learned formed an 
exclusive guild, and there was no high or wealthy 
class of burghers. The middle classes followed the 
narrow path of their old-fashioned German fathers; 
met, if at all, over the beer-jug, and were contin- 
ually engaged in repeating stories of "old Fritz's 
victories." ^ Particularly, the women lived modestly 
within their four walls, or occupied themselves 
wholly with the concerns of their family circles. 


With the Jews of Berlin it was entirely different. 
All, or most of them, had been more or less en- 
gaged with the Talmud in their youth ; their mental 
powers were acute, and susceptible to fresh influ- 
ences. These new elements of culture Mendels- 
sohn gave them through his Bible translation, and 
his philosophical and aesthetic writings. In Jewish 
circles, knowledge procured more distinction than 
riches ; the ignorant man, however wealthy, was 
held up as a butt for contempt. Every Jew, what- 
ever his means, prided himself on possessing a 
collection of old and new books, and, when possible, 
sought to know their contents, so that he might not 
be wanting in conversation. Every well-informed 
Jew lived in two worlds, that of business, and that 
of books. In consequence of the impulse given by 
Mendelssohn, the younger generation occupied it- 
self with belles-lettres, language, and philosophy. 
The subjects of study had changed, but the yearning 
for knowledge remained, or became still stronger. 
Amongst the Jews of Berlin, shortly after the death 
of Mendelssohn, were more than a hundred young 
men burning with zeal for knowledge and culture, 
from whose midst the contributors to the periodical 
"Ha-Meassef" were supplied. 

To this honest inclination for study, there was 
added a fashionable folly. Through Frederick the 
Great, French literature became acclimatized in 
Prussia, and Jews were especially attracted by the 
sparkling intellectuality of French wit. Voltaire 
had more admirers in the tents of Jacob than in 
German houses. Jewish youths ravenously flung 
themselves upon French literature, and acquired its 
forms ; French frivolity naturally made its entry at 
the same time* The clever daughters of Israel also 
ardently devoted themselves to this fashionable 
folly ; they learned French, at first, to be sure, for 
the purpose of conversing in the fashionable lan- 
guage with the youthful cavaliers who borrowed 


money from their fathers. It was one more orna- 
ment with which to deck themselves. Through 
the influence of Mendelssohn and Lessing, such 
trifling gave way to earnest endeavors for the 
acquisition of solid knowledge, in order that they 
might occupy an equally exalted footing with the 
men. Mendelssohn's daughters, who were contin- 
ually in the society of cultivated men, led the way, 
and stirred up emulation. In no town of Germany 
were there so many cultured Jewish women as in 
Berlin, for they learned easily, were industrious, 
and altogether superior to their Christian sisters in 
knowledge of literature. 

Mendelssohn's house became the center for 
scientific and literary intercourse, and was the more 
frequented as his friends might expect to meet dis- 
tinguished strangers there who were attracted by 
his wide-spread renown, and from whom something 
new might be learned. His daughters were ad- 
mitted to this witty and charming society, to which 
they also introduced their young companions. 
After Mendelssohn's death David Friedlander and 
Marcus Herz took his place. Friedlander was, 
however, too stiff and plain to exercise attraction. 
Thus Herz's house became headquarters for Men- 
delssohn's friends, who became the nucleus of a 
large circle. Herz was a popular physician, and 
had numerous acquaintances among distinguished 
Jewish and Christian families. His lectures at- 
tracted people of every rank to his house, and those 
eager for knowledge were admitted iato the inti- 
macy of the family circle. Herz was gifted with 
caustic wit, with which he seasoned the conversation. 
But more powerful than his science and his genius 
was the influence of his wife. Hers was a magic 
circle, into which every native or foreign personage 
of importance in Berlin was magnetically drawn. 
Intercourse with the beautiful and gifted Jewess 
Henrietta Herz was, next to the court circle, the 


most sought after in Berlin. Had she not been 
misled by seductive influences, she might have been 
a source of rich blessings to Judaism. 

This beautiful woman, then, made her house the 
gathering-place of the select society of Berlin, and 
illustrious strangers pressed for the honor of an in- 
troduction to her. Here the Christian friends of 
Mendelssohn, already accustomed to intercourse 
with Jews, mingled freely with cultured Jews, but 
also new men, who filled high positions, and diplo- 
matists were to be met there. Mirabeau, in whose 
mind the storm-charged clouds of the Revolution 
were already forming, and to whom the Jews owed 
so much, during his secret diplomatic embassy 
(1786) to Berlin was more in the society of Henri- 
etta Herz than in that of her husband. Gradually 
ladies of high degree and education also entered 
into relations with Madame Herz and her friends, 
attracted by the charm of refined, social communion. 
But her salon exercised most powerful attraction 
upon cultured Christian youths, by reason of its 
beautiful Jewish damsels and ladies, the satellites of 
the fair hostess. These Jewish beauties, however, 
did not merely form the ornament of the salon, but 
took an active part in the intellectual entertainment, 
and distinguished themselves by their originality. 
Gentz called them " the clever women of Jewry." 
Among them were two who shone by superior in- 
tellectual qualities, and combined modern culture 
with Jewish keenness of mind and wit : Mendels- 
sohn's eldest daughter Dorothea, and Rachel Levin, 
afterwards the wife of Varnhagen von Ense. Both 
possessed eminent talents, in addition to which 
Rachel Levin had an inflexible love for truth, united 
with gentleness and amiability. 

Almost at the same time a brilliant salon, where 
authors, artists, nobles, and diplomatists, native and 
foreign, came together, was opened in Vienna, 
by a Berlin Jewess, Fanny Itzig, daughter of the 


banker Daniel Itzig. She was witty, amiable and 
noble, and was married to Nathan Adam von Arn- 
stein, who had been made a baron. Like her friends 
in Berlin she brought about the social interming- 
ling of Jews with Christians in Vienna. These Jew- 
ish coteries most triumphantly refuted the foolish 
remark of the insolent scholar of Gottingen, " that 
gypsies would sooner undergo the transformation 
into a people than Jews." The prejudice of a 
thousand years was blown away with one breath 
more effectually than by a hundred learned or elo- 
quent disquisitions. 

The social equalization of the Jews in cultivated 
circles of Prussia caused them to hope, if not for 
complete civil rights, at least for a lightening of the 
oppressive taxes and the humiliations imposed upon 
them. Between the social position of cultured Jews 
and their legal standing there was a deep chasm. 
In the burgher classes, the Jews of Berlin were the 
first millionaires no indifferent matter considering 
the important place held by money at that time 
yet, according to the law, they were treated like 
peddlers. Humane treatment could not be ex- 
pected from the philosophical king. Dohm's apol- 
ogy for the Jews did not exist for him. Hope was 
aroused among the Berlin Jews on the accession of 
Frederick William II, who was of a weak but kindly 
nature. Urged on by David Friedlander, who, the 
successor of Mendelssohn, was at the same time 
considered the representative of Jewish interests, 
the chiefs and elders of the Berlin community pre- 
sented a petition for the abolition of the Jewish 
poll-tax, the repeal of barbarous laws against the 
Jews, and the concession of freedom of movement. 
They received a favorable reply, directing them to 
" choose honest men from their midst," with whom 
the government might negotiate. Their proposal 
to select delegates from amongst the Jews in the 
provinces was assented to, and a commission was 


established to investigate the complaints of the 
Prussian Jews and make suggestions for improve- 
ment. As general deputies of the Jews there were 
selected Friedlander and his rich father-in-law, 
Daniel Itzig, who, with great independence and 
courage, laid bare the barbarous and venal legisla- 
tion of Frederick the Great in reference to the 

The deputies drew up a list of the imposts ex- 
torted from the Jews, bearing ridiculous titles ; for 
instance, the exportation of porcelain, which bound 
them to purchase articles of the worst quality for an 
exorbitant price (called in mockery " Jews' porce- 
lain ") from the royal manufactory and to sell them 
abroad ; and taxes for the support of manufactories 
for caps, stockings, pocket-handkerchiefs, and veils. 
They pointed out burdensome restrictions, how in 
courts of justice they were not treated as the equals 
of Christian suitors, and they especially complained 
of the responsibility laid upon all for each, and 
boldly demanded complete equalization, not mere 
permission to engage in agriculture and trades, but 
also to fill public offices and university chairs (May, 
1787). The expectations of the Jews'of Berlin and 
Prussia were however baffled. Only the law to 
deal in bad porcelain was annulled for a sum of four 
thousand thalers. The degrading body- tax was 
also repealed for native Jews journeying from prov- 
ince to province, and for strangers when frequenting 
the fair at Frankfort-on-the-Oder (December, 1 787 ; 
July, 1788.) This release from slavery had been 
effected by Joseph II and by Louis XVI of France 
several years previously. The high officials there- 
fore advised the abolition of the Jewish poll-tax 
from shame. But the gain was not great, for, as 
Prussian Jews had to prove themselves such at 
every public gate, the stigma was not removed. The 
ultimate result of the petition of the Jewish deputies 
was lamentable. What was given with one hand, 


was taken away with the other. It redounds to the 
honor of the deputies that they frankly rejected the 
paltry, narrow-minded concessions, remarking, " The 
intended favors are below our expectation, and 
hardly accord with the joyful hopes entertained at 
the accession of the king." They declared that 
they were not empowered to accept the reforms 
offered, " which contain few advantages and many 
restrictions," especially as regarded the enlistment 
of common soldiers. Only certain individual Jews 
received exceptional equalization of rights. Orders 
were given that in official acts they should not be 
treated as Jews. Otherwise everything continued 
as of old, only slight relief being given to the Jews 
in Silesia. 

Thus a nucleus for the elevation of the Jewish 
race was formed in the Berlin community, and their 
efforts were encouraged, if not by the state, at least 
by public opinion. In two ways their action influ- 
enced a wider circle through the Free School 
(Chinuch Nearim), and the printing establishment 
connected with it. The Free School, conducted by 
David Friedlander and his brother-in-law, Itzig 
Daniel Itzig/ was not managed according to 
Wessely's ideal plan. The curriculum was com- 
posed mainly of the subjects of a general education, 
and gradually everything Jewish (Hebrew, the 
Bible, the Talmud) was crowded out. In ten years 
(1781-1791) over five hundred well-taught pupils 
were graduated from the school apostles of the 
Berlin spirit, who spread its influence in all direc- 
tions. It became a model school for German and 
other communities. With similar ends in view the 
printing-press sent into the Ghettos a large number 
of instructive works in Hebrew and German. The 
spirit engendered thereby was at first one of scep- 
ticism, of superficial enlightenment. Its aim was to 
eradicate from Jewish life and manners everything 
that offended cultured taste or made the Jews 


objects of derision, but it included in its attack what- 
ever did not at once recommend itself to the sober- 
minded, and so tended to obliterate everything that 
recalled the great events of the past, and that 
caused the Jews to appear as a separate race in the 
eyes of Christians. The dearest ambition of the 
advocates of this movement was to resemble Christ- 
ians in every respect. "Enlightenment, Culture" 
were their passwords, the idols of their worship, to 
which they sacrificed everything. Mendelssohn had 
left no disciple of any importance able to recognize 
the great truths of Judaism, and bring them into 
accord with culture. Men like Euchel, Lowe, Fried- 
lander, Herz, and almost all the Measfim, possessed 
mediocre minds and limited views ; they were una- 
ble to scatter abroad fruit-bearing germs of thought. 
Despite their enthusiasm for Mendelssohn, they did 
not appreciate the essence of his nature, and thought 
that he was still in their midst, when they had long 
forsaken him. Even his own children, not excepting 
his accomplished daughters, misunderstood him ; 
and this misconception resulted in great confusion. 

With every step forward taken by the Berlin 
school of enlightenment, it became more opposed 
to the main body of Judaism, vexing its susceptibil- 
ities, and thereby frustrating its own efficacy. 
Misunderstandings, bitter feelings, friction, and 
strife were the direct consequences. 

The ultra-orthodox party, however, numbered 
still fewer men of importance than the advanced 
school. The most eminent leader among them, or 
the one regarded as such, Ezekiel Landau, in 
Prague, had not the slightest sympathy with the 
new tendency, but thoughtlessly clung to every 
usage however unjustifiable, and thereby injured 
the cause he represented. He had only condem- 
nation and denunciation as heretics for those who 
withdrew from the well-trodden path. 

Owing to the friction between the progressive 


and the orthodox parties, both of whom exceeded 
all proper bounds, an exciting quarrel sprang up in 
the Berlin community. Young men private tutors, 
merchants' apprentices, the sons of the rich, and 
fashionable youths boasted a frivolous philosophy, 
and proudly despised their hoary religion, consider- 
ing everything that interfered with their pleasures 
as superstition, prejudice, and Rabbinical folly. 
The adherents of the old views therefore grew the 
more tenacious, and held to everything that bore a 
religious stamp. As the orthodox communal leaders 
still had the upper hand in the benevolent institu- 
tions, they refused support to the partisans of 
enlightenment, especially to strangers, would not 
admit their sick into the Jewish hospital, and denied 
the dead honorable burial. In short all the phe- 
nomena that usually accompany religious party 
conflicts appeared. Those without families, among 
whom were two prominent Measfim, Euchel and 
Wolfsohn, determined to unite together so as not 
to stand isolated against the orthodox party. They 
desired to form a union for the protection of its 
members. Mendelssohn's eldest son, Joseph, was 
very zealous in promoting such a union, and on the 
strength of his name it met with abundant encour- 
agement. Thus the "Society of Friends" was 
formed (1792), a community of ilfaminati within 
the community, comprising solely unmarried men, 
whose chief aim was to regard each other as 
brothers, and to support each other in distress and 
illness ; but their collateral intention was to spread 
cultureand promote enlightenment. The " Friends" 
took a saying of Mendelssohn as their motto, " To 
seek for truth, to love the beautiful, to desire the 
good, to do the best/' A bundle of staves was 
their symbol. In the first year of its existence, the 
union numbered more than a hundred members in 
the capital Young men in Konigsberg, Breslau, 
and Vienna, joined the ranks. A bond of cordial 


brotherhood held the members together, and to the 
present day, a fraternal feeling of delicate benevo- 
lence has survived in the Society. But it was a 
morbid symptom. The Society floated in the air 
without a firm basis; it had roots neither in its own 
midst, nor in Judaism, nor did it attach itself to any 
great political ideal. It aimed at bodily welfare 
and quietude, as if civilized men could live by 
bread only : the catchwords and phrases of culture 
and enlightenment did not avail much. The struggle 
against the old regime was but weak ; all that 
they succeeded in doing was to keep their de- 
ceased friends longer above ground. In short, the 
" Society of Friends " lacked the leaven of inspira- 
tion, the only quality which ultimately bears fruit. 

If the members of this Society took up no firm 
attitude, those who never knew an ideal, nor even 
a dreamy striving, the commonplace men who were 
mere slaves, and sought their whole happiness in 
mixing with Christians, acted yet more culpably. 
The old system had no charms for them, and the 
new one no tangible form to attract them. The 
example of the court and high ciicles of society 
exercised an evil influence also upon the Jews of 
the large towns of Prussia. " Under Frederick 
William II," as Mirabeau remarks from his own 
observation, "Prussia had fallen into a condition of 
rottenness, before having attained the stage of 
maturity." Jewish youths of wealthy houses followed 
the general inclination to sensual pleasures. Not 
secretly, but openly in the light of day, they over- 
leapt all bounds, and with contempt of Judaism 
united contempt for chastity and morality. They 
aped other apes. Earnest men, such as David 
Friedlander, Lazarus Ben- David, and Saul Asher, 
deplored the decay of morality among the Jews, 
without noticing that their own shallow desire for 
enlightenment had contributed to it. 


" Vices have spread in our midst, which our fathers knew not, and 
which at any price have been bought too dearly. Irreligion, volup- 
tuousness, and effeminacy, weeds that spring from the misuse of 
enlightenment and culture, have alas ! taken root amongst us, and 
especially in the principal towns we are exposed to the danger that 
the stream of luxury along with our boorishness is sweeping away our 
severe and simple morals," 

Having broken loose from the bond of a national 
religion existing for thousands of years, superficial 
reasoners and profligates passed over to Christ- 
ianity in a body. " They were like moths, fluttering 
around the flame, till they were consumed." Of 
what use was it to be galled by the fetters of the 
44 general privilege," of what use to continue to bear 
the disgrace of being "protected" Jews, if by the 
repetition of an empty formula they could become 
equal to the Christians ! So they washed away the 
mark of the yoke and its shame with the waters of 
baptism. The congregations of Berlin, Breslau, 
and Konigsberg beheld daily the apostasy of their 
members, of the richest and outwardly the most 
cultured people. It appeared as if the words of the 
prophet would be verified, "I will leave in the 
midst of thee an afflicted and poor people." It 
must be considered a miracle that the entire Jewish 
party of enlightenment in Germany did not abjure 
Judaism. Three invisible powers kept them from 
following en masse the example of treachery and 
apostasy : ^deep aversion to the dogma of Divine In- 
carnation, indestructible attachment to their families 
and to their great past of thousands of years, and 
love for the Hebrew language and literature. 
Without _ suspecting it, they felt themselves united 
as a nation, a link in the long chain of the history 
of the Jewish race, and they could not persuade 
themselves to separate from it. The revival of 
Hebrew through the Measfim had had beneficial 
influence in this direction. Whoever could com- 
prehend the beauties and elevated thoughts of bib- 
lical literature, and could imitate the language, re- 


mained a Jew in spite of secret doubts, degradation, 
and disgrace. Thus Mendelssohn provided the 
new generation both with a poison and its antidote. 
David Friedlander alone proved an exception to 
this rule. Neither Jewish antiquity, nor Hebrew 
poetry, nor family ties, had power to keep him loyal 
to his banner, even with half-hearted devotion. 
The tearing asunder of all family connections, the 
casting aside of the duties of the religious brother- 
hood, did indeed oppress him. Nevertheless, he 
proceeded to sever himself from the Jewish com- 
munity and to desert to the hostile camp. He 
had striven to obtain for himself and his whole 
family an exceptional naturalization with all its 
rights and duties, but had not succeeded. This 
pained him, and instead of hiding his annoyance in 
the pride of ancestry and martyrdom, instead of 
working on behalf of his co-religionists so as to sur- 
pass the haughty Christians, he coveted the honor 
of joining them. Friedlander, however, did not de- 
sire to effect this desertion alone or absolutely. 
He therefore, together with other fathers of families 
similarly disposed, in a cowardly manner directed a 
letter, without mentioning either himself or others 
by name, to the chief consistorial councilor Teller, 
who was on friendly terms with Jews. This letter 
expressed their desire for conversion and baptism, 
under the condition that they might be excused 
from believing in Jesus, and from participating in 
the rites of the church, or that at least they might 
be allowed to explain Christian dogmas in their own 
manner a suggestion equally silly and dishonor- 
able. Friedlander could not deny that, among the 
Jews, " virtue was general, benevolence inherent, 
parental and filial love, and the sanctity of marriage 
deeply rooted, self-sacrifice for the sake of. others 
frequent; and that, on the other hand, gross 
crimes murder, robbery, and outrage were rare." 
But this bright side of their servile state seemed to 


him only a secondary matter. Therefore, in this 
foolish letter, he libeled his people and its past, 
called the Talmud (that mental tonic) mysticism, 
spoke in illogical confusion now of the harmful 
character, now of the utility of the ritual laws of 
Judaism, and sketched the development of Jewish 
history in a way not to be excelled for perversity. 

Teller disposed of the Jewish fathers who craved 
a Christianity without Jesus politely, but decisively, 
as they deserved. They might remain what they 
were, for Christianity had no desire for such infidel 
believers. Friedlander had met with an ignomin- 
ious experience ; he remained a Jew, but his chil- 
dren pressed forward to be baptized without con- 
ditions or qualifications. His letter however 
aroused more attention than it deserved. 

If the German Jews, especially those of Berlin, 
through their intercourse with Christian society, and 
their interest in literature, gained in external con- 
duct, in forms of politeness, and social manners 
advantages not to be underrated they lost some- 
thing for which there was no compensation. The 
chastity of Jewish women and maidens during their 
isolation had been of inviolable sanctity ; the happi 
ness of family life rested upon this precious basis. 
Jewish women were seldom married for love the 
Ghetto was not the place for the dallyings of love 
but after marriage duty induced love. This sanc- 
tuary, the pride of Israel, which filled earnest 
Christians with admiration, and led them highly to 
esteem the Jews, became dishonored by their asso- 
ciation with Christians of the corrupt higher ranks. 

If the enemies of the Jews had designed to break 
the power of Israel, they could have discovered no 
more effectual means than infecting Jewish women 
with moral depravity, a plan more efficacious than 
that employed by the Midianites, who weakened 
the men by immorality. The salon of the beautiful 
Henrietta Herz became a sort of Midianite tent. 



Here a number of young Jewish women assembled, 
whose husbands were kept away by their business. 
The most prominent male member of this circle 
was Frederick von Gentz, the embodiment of self- 
ishness, licentiousness, vice, and depravity, whose 
chief occupation was the betrayal of women. 
Henrietta Herz was the first to be confused and led 
astray by homage to her beauty. It was the time 
when German romanticism, the product of Goethe's 
muse, began to act upon the minds of men, urging 
them to translate lyrical emotions into reality, and 
transfigure life poetically. This romantic tendency 
resulted in fostering sentimentality and in infamous 
marriages which were contracted and dissolved at 
pleasure. A so-called Band of Virtue (Tugend- 
Bund) was formed, of which -Henrietta Herz, two 
daughters of Mendelssohn, and other Jewesses, to- 
gether with Christian profligates, were members. 
The Jewish women felt themselves exalted and 
honored by their close intimacy with Christians of 
rank ; they did not see the fanged serpent beneath 
the flowers. With William von Humboldt an ar- 
.dent youth, afterwards a Prussian minister, Hen- 
rietta secretly maintained an amatory correspon- 
dence behind her husband's back. 

When William von Humboldt married, and 
forgot Henrietta, who had been misled by her van- 
ity, she entered into an ambiguous relation with 
Schleiermacher, the modern apostle of the new 
Christianity. Their conspicuous intimacy was 
mocked at by acquaintances, even more than by 
strangers. Both parties denied somewhat too 
anxiously the criminality of their intimate inter- 
course. Whether .true or not, it was disgrace 
enough that evil tongues should even suspect the 
honor of a Jewish matron of good family. 

Schleiermacher's companion was Frederick Schle- 
gel, who stormed heaven with childish strength, a 
chameleon in sentiments and views, enthusiastic 


now for the republic, now for monarchical despotism, 
who conjured up the specters and evil spirits of the 
Middle Ages. Introduced into the salon of Herz, 
he became the bosom friend of Schleiermacher, and 
at once resolved to seduce Dorothea Mendelssohn. 
Her father had died with the knowledge that she 
was joined in happy wedlock to the banker Simon 
Veit Witzenhausen. Her husband surrounded her 
with marks of attention and love. Two children 
were the issue of this marriage. Nevertheless, 
she allowed herself to be led into faithlessness by 
the treacherous voice of the romantic Schlegel. 
It was the fashion in this society to complain about 
being misunderstood and the discord of souls. 
The immoral teachings of Goethe's elective affinities 
had already taken rt>ot in Jewish families. The 
thought of parting from her husband and children 
did not restrain Dorothea from going astray, and 
Henrietta Herz acted as go-between. Dorothea 
therefore left her husband, and lived with Schlegel, 
at first in unlawful union. All the world was 
astounded at this immorality, which dragged Men- 
delssohn's honorable name in the mud. Doctor 
Herz forbade his wife to hold intercourse with this 
depraved woman. But she herself was at heart 
an adulteress, and informed her husband that she 
would not forsake her friend. Schleiermacher, the 
preacher, also took but little offense at this dissolute 
conduct. Dorothea followed her romantic betrayer 
from one folly to another, was baptized as a 
Protestant, and finally, together with him, became 
converted to Catholicism. It was a lamentable 
sight when Mendelssohn's daughter kissed the 
toe of the pope. The younger sister, Henrietta 
Mendelssohn, was not handsome enough to enthrall 
the libertines of the salon. It suffices to indicate 
her bent of mind to say that she also went over to 
Catholicism. The consequence of this internal 
corruption was to render the participators out of 
sorts with life. 


Rachel Levin, another high-spirited woman, was 
too clever to take part in the frivolity of the Band 
of Virtue^ She desired to pursue her own way. 
But her wisdom and clear mind did not secure her 
against the contamination of immorality. In one 
respect she was superior to her sinful Jewish sisters ; 
she was truthful, and wore no mask. When Rachel 
first made the acquaintance of the heroic but disso- 
lute Prince Louis Ferdinand, she undertook to teach 
him "garret-truths"; but she rather learned from 
him the follies of the palace. Herself unmarried, 
she consented to become the intermediary between 
him and the abandoned Pauline Wiesel. Rachel 
Levin, or, as she was also called, Rachel Robert, in 
whose veins flowed Talmudic blood, which endowed 
her with a bright and active mind, and enabled her 
to penetrate to the very foundation of things, and 
pursue the. soul and its varying instincts in their 
subtlest manifestations, ignored her own origin. 
She desired to distinguish the breath of God in the 
mutations of history, yet had no appreciation of 
the greatness of her race. She despised it, consid- 
ering it the greatest shame and her worst misfortune 
to have been born a Jewess. Only in the hour of 
death did a faint suspicion of the great importance 
of Judaism and the Jews cross her mind. 

^ exalted delight I meditate upon my origin and the web of 

history, through which the oldest reminiscences of the human race 
are united with present affairs, despite distance of time and space. 
I, a fugitive from Egypt, am here, and find assistance. What all my 
life I considered my greatest disgrace, I now would not give up for 
any price." 

But even in that hour her mind did not see clearly, 
her thoughts were disordered, and she exhausted 
herself in fantastic dreams. 

These talented but sinful Jewish women did 
Judaism a service by becoming Christians. Men- 
delssohn's daughters and Rachel were converted 
publicly, while Henrietta Herz, who had more regard 


for appearances, received baptism in a small town 
to avoid hurting her Jewish friends, and took this 
step only after her mother's death. 

Schleiermacher again inoculated the cultivated 
classes in Germany with a peculiar, scarcely defin- 
able, antipathy to Judaism. He was in no way a 
Jew-baiter, in the usual sense of the term, and 
indignantly protested against being called so ; but 
his mind was agitated with a vague, disagreeable 
feeling towards the Jews, from which he could not 
escape. When Friedlander's foolish letter on the 
admission of certain families into Christianity 
divested of the dogma of the Trinity, was published, 
Schleiermacher expressed himself adverse to their 
admission. The state might concede to the Jews 
the rights of citizenship, but should tolerate them 
only as a special sect, inasmuch as they would not 
surrender their hope in the Messiah. It was quite 
in accordance with his romantic neo-Christianity, 
that from ignorance and confusion he depicted 
Judaism as a mummy "around which its sons sit 
moaning and weeping." He would not even 
acknowledge Judaism as the forerunner of Christi- 
anity^ *' I ^ detest this sort of historical relationship 
in religion." Hitherto, Christendom had been con- 
scious of a certain connection with Judaism, and the 
Old Testament, the Bible, had been the common 
ground upon which the insolent daughter and the 
enslaved mother met, and for the moment forgot 
their hatred. To this connection, or its recognition, 
the Jews owed their salvation in the sad days of 
excess of Christian faith, or they would have been 
altogether annihilated in Europe. The papacy pro- 
tected them, " because the Saviour had come from 
their midst." This bond Schleiermacher destroyed 
at a breath. To have anything in common with the 
Jews enraged him. But were not Jesus, the Apostles, 
and the early Fathers of the Church, Jews? 
Schleiermacher would willingly have denied this 


fact, if he could possibly have clone it ; but as this 
was impracticable, he enshrouded it in mystery. 

" What ? we are to believe that Jesus was only a Jewish Rabbi, 
with philanthropic sentiments, and some Socratic morality; with 
certain miracles, or at least what some consider as such, and with 
the talent of composing neat riddles and parables some follies will 
even then have to be forgiven him, according to the first three 
Evangelists ; and such a man could have established a new religion 
and a Church a man who cannot be compared with Moses and 
Mahomet ? " 

This fact Schleiermacher could not tolerate ; for 
in such case, not only Moses the prophet, but also 
Moses Mendelssohn, the sage of Berlin, would have 
been greater. Therefore Schleiermacher removed 
his Jesus far away from Judaism ; he had only had 
the accident of birth in common with the Jews, but he 
\vassuperhuman, and still a man, " whose conscious- 
ness of God may properly be called existence of God 
within him/' as it is expressed in this mystic, extrava- 
gant, romantic teaching, which thus took its own 
chief under its protection. Schleiermacher's ser- 
mons were filled with this kind of word-juggling, to 
which the Berlin Jews, especially the women, list- 
ened as devoutly as their ancestors to the lying 
tricks of the false prophets. The school of Schlei- 
ermacher/ which became the leading influence in 
Germany, made this intense contempt of Judaism 
its password and the basis of its orthodoxy. 

At the same time, another romanticist, Chateau- 
briand, invented new, flimsy supports for Christianity, 
which was in ruins and almost forgotten in France. 
Even though he traced the origin of the arts, music, 
painting, architecture, eloquence, and poetry, to 
Christianity, he, at least, did not deny a share in 
these merits to Judaism, though only with the inten- 
tion of claiming for Christianity the noblest features 
in Hebrew literature and history. " There are only 
two bright names and memories in history, those of 
the Israelites and the Pelasgians (Greeks)/ 1 When 
Chateaubriand desired to prove his assertion that 


the poetry of nature is the invention of Christianity, 
he cited as examples the beautiful descriptions in 
Job, in the Prophets, and the Psalms, to whose 
poetry the works of Pindar and Horace were much 
inferior. Chateaubriand gathered the flowers of 
Hebrew poetry to weave a beautiful garland for his 
crucified god. But he did not, like Schleiermacher, 
crush Judaism into the dust by denying the pater- 
nity of the child grown to be so powerful. 

A new Jud^eophobia sprang from the neo-Christ- 
ian school, which, as its originators obtained political 
influence, grew much stronger than that of old 
orthodox Christianity. It is remarkable that the two- 
fold reaction, that of the Church, brought about by 
Schleiermacher, and that of the political world, 
which is connected with Gentz, had its rise in the 
Judaeo-Christian salon in Berlin. But in the same 
year \vhen the effeminate Schleiermacher, in his 
romantic delineation of himself, calumniated Judaism 
by describing it as a mummy, there arose a man, a 
hero, a giant in comparison with these wretched 
dwarfs, who issued a summons for the Jews to 
gather round his standard. He wished to conquer 
the Holy Land of their fathers for them, and, a 
second Cyrus, to rebuild their Temple. The free- 
dom which the Berlin Jews desired to attain by 
the surrender of their peculiarities, and by humilia- 
tion before the Church, they now obtained through 
France, without paying this price and without dis- 
graceful bargaining. 




Foreshadowing of the French Revolution Cerf Berr Mirabeau on 
the Jewish Question in France Berr Isaac Berr The Jewish 
Question and the National Assembly Equalization of Portuguese 
Jews Efforts to equalize Paris JewsJewish Question deferred 
Equalization, of French Jews Reign of Terror Equalization of 
Jews of Holland Adath Jeshurun Congregation Spread of 
Emancipation Bonaparte in Palestine Fichte's Jew-hatred 
The Poll-Tax Grund's "Petition of Jews of Germany" Jacob- 
son Breidenbach Lefrank Alexander I of Russia: his At- 
tempts to improve the Condition of the Jews of Russia. 

17911805 c, E. 

HE who believes that Providence manifests itself in 
history, that sins, crimes, and follies on the whole 
serve to elevate mankind, finds in the French Rev- 
olution complete confirmation of this faith. Could 
this eventful reaction, which the whole of the civil- 
ized world gradually experienced, have happened 
without the long chain of revolting crimes and 
abominations which the nobility, the monarchy, and 
the Church committed? The unnatural servitude 
inflicted by the temporal and spiritual powers pro- 
duced liberty, but nourished it with poison, so that 
liberty bit into its own flesh, and wounded itself. 
The Revolution was a judgment which in one day 
atoned for the sins of a thousand years, and which 
hurled into the dust all who, at the expense of jus- 
tice and religion, had created new grades of society. 
A new day of the Lord had come " to humiliate all 
the proud and high, and to raise up the lowly." 
For the Jews, too, the most abject and despised 
people in European society, the day of redemption 
and liberty was to dawn after their long slavery 


among the nations of Europe. It is noteworthy 
that England and France, the two European coun- 
tries which first expelled the Jews, were the first to 
reinstate them in the rights of humanity. What 
Mendelssohn had thought possible at some distant 
time, and what had been the devout wish of Dohm 
and Diez, those defenders of the Jews, was realized 
in France with almost magical rapidity. 

However, the freedom of the French Jews did 
not fall into their laps like ripe fruit, in the matur- 
ing of which they had taken no trouble. They 
made vigorous exertions to remove the oppressive 
yoke from their shoulders; but in France the result 
of their activity was more favorable and speedy 
than in Germany. The most zealous energy in 
behalf of the liberation of the French Jews was dis- 
played by a man, whose forgotten memory deserves 
to be transmitted to posterity. Herz Medelsheim 
or Cerf Berr (born about 1 730, died 1 793) was the 
first to exert himself by word and deed to remove 
the prejudices against his co-religionists, under 
which he himself suffered severely. He was 
acquainted with the Talmud, in good circumstances, 
warm-hearted enough to atfoid the selfishness bred 
by prosperity, and sufficiently liberal to understand 
and spread the new spirit emanating from Mendels- 
sohn. He was intimately acquainted with the 
Berlin sage, and undertook to disseminate the Pen- 
tateuch translation in Alsace. Owing to his posi- 
tion, Cerf Berr was enabled to work for the eman- 
cipation of his brethren. He furnished the French 
army with the necessaries of war, and therefore had 
to be in Strasburg, where no Jew was allowed to 
live. At first he was allowed in Strasburg only one 
winter, but having performed great Cervices to the 
state, during the war and a famine under Louis 
XV, the permission to stay was repeatedly pro- 
longed by the minister, and he utilized this favor to 
take up his permanent residence there. Cerf Berr 


drew other Jews to Strasburg. Secretly he pur- 
chased houses for himself and his family, and owing 
to his services to the state, he obtained from Louis 
XVI all the rights and liberties of royal subjects, 
especially the exceptional privilege of possessing 
landed property and goods. He also established 
factories in Strasburg, and tried to have the work 
done by Jews, so as to withdraw them from petty 
trading and deprive their accusers of all excuse for 
their prejudices. 

Although Cerf Berr was a useful member of 
society, and brought profit to the town, the Germans 
in Strasburg viewed the settlement of Jews within 
their walls askance, and made every conceivable 
effort to expel Berr and his friends. This Philistine 
narrow-mindedness on the one hand, and Dohm's 
advocacy of the Jews on the other, as well as the 
partial relief afforded by Emperor Joseph, impelled 
Berr seriously to consider the emancipation of the 
Jews, or at least their admission to most of the 
French towns, and to endeavor to carry the measure 
at court. To win public opinion, he energetically* 
spread Dohm's Apology in France. The proposals 
of Cerf Berr were favorably received at court. 
From other quarters, also, the French government 
was petitioned to lighten the oppressive measures, 
which weighed especially on the Jews of Alsace and 
Lorraine. The good-natured Louis XVI was inclined 
to remove any abuse as soon as it was placed 
before him in its true light. The noble Malesherbes, 
enthusiastic for the well-being of mankind, probably 
at the instigation of the king, summoned a commis- 
sion of Jews, which was to make suggestions for 
the amelioration of the condition of their brethren in 
France. As a matter of course, Cerf Berr was 
invited. As representative of the Jews of Lorraine, 
his ally, Berr Isaac Berr of Nancy, was summoned, 
who afterwards developed the greatest zeal for the 
emancipation of his co-religionists. Portuguese 


Jews from Bordeaux and Bayonne, the two towns 
where they resided, were also included in the com- 
mission. Furtado, who subsequently played a part 
in the history of the Revolution, Gradis, Isaac 
Rodrigues of Bordeaux, and Lopes-Dubec, were 
members of this commission instituted by Males- 
herbes. These eminent men, all of them animated 
with zealous sympathy for their languishing brethren, 
undoubtedly insisted upon the repeal of exceptional 
laws, but their proposals are not known. Probably 
in consequence of their efforts, Louis XVI abrogated 
the poll-tax, which had been particularly degrading 
to the Jews in the German-speaking provinces of 

More effectually than Cerf Berr and the Jewish 
commission, two men worked for the liberation of 
the Jews who in a measure had been inspired by 
Mendelssohn and his friends, and were the incarna- 
tion of the Revolution. They were Mirabeau and 
the Abbe Gregoire, no less zealous for liberty than 
the former. Count Mirabeau (born 1749 ; died 1 791), 
who was always on the side of the oppressed 
against the oppressors, was first induced, by his 
intimacy with Mendelssohn's circle, to raise his voice 
of thunder on behalf of the Jews. 

Filled with admiration for the grand personality 
of Mendelssohn, and inspired by the thought of 
accomplishing the deliverance of an enslaved race, 
Mirabeau wrote his important work "Upon Men- 
delssohn and the Political Reform of the Jews" 
(1787). Of the former he drew a brilliant picture. 
The Jewish sage could not have wished for a warmer, 
more inspired, more clear-sighted interpreter. The 
liking he entertained for Mendelssohn Mirabeau 
transferred to the Jews in general. 

" May it not be said that his example, especially the outcome of 
his exertions for the elevation of his brethren, silences those who, 
with ignoble bitterness, insist that the Jews are so contemptible that 
they cannot be transformed into a respectable people ? " 


This observation was the introduction to Mira- 
beau's vindication of the Jews, in which he gave a 
correct exposition of what Dohm had adduced and 
what he himself had experienced. He surveyed the 
long, tragic history of the Jews, discovering traits 
very different from those found by Voltaire. Mira- 
beau saw the glorious martyrdom of the Jews and 
the disgrace of their oppressors. Their virtues he 
extolled freely, and attributed their failings to the 
ill-treatment they had received. 

" If you wish the Jews to become better men and useful citizens, 
then banish every humiliating distinction, open to them every avenue 
of gaining a livelihood ; instead of forbidding them agriculture, 
handicrafts, and the mechanical arts, encourage them to devote 
themselves to these occupations." 

With telling wit, Mirabeau refuted the arguments 
of the German anti-Semites, Michaelis and the Got- 
tingen guild of scholars, against the naturalization 
of the Jews. It was only necessary to place the 
different objections side by side to demonstrate 
their absurdity. On the one hand, it was main- 
tained that, in their rivalry with Christians, the Jews 
would gain the upper hand, and from another point 
of view it was demonstrated that they would always 
remain inferior. "Let their opponents first agree 
among themselves," he remarked, "at present they 
refute each other." Mirabeau foresaw, with pro- 
phetic clearness, that in a free and happy condition 
the Jews would soon forget their Messianic king, 
and that therefore the justification of their perma- 
nent exclusion, derived from their belief in the Mes- 
siah, was futile. 

"There is only one thing to be lamented, that so highly gifted a 
nation should so long have been kept in a state wherein it was im- 
possible for its powers to develop, and every far-sighted man must 
rejoice in the acquisition of useful fellow-citizens from among the 

On all occasions Mirabeau seized the opportunity 
of speaking warmly on behalf of the Jews, He was 


devoted to them and their biblical literature, and 
scattered the clouds of prejudice with which Vol- 
taire had enveloped them. When Mirabeau under- 
took the defense of any matter, the victory was 
already half won. His suggestions for reform 
came at the right moment. 

Among the thousand matters that occupied pub- 
lic opinion on the eve of the Revolution was also 
the Jewish question. The Jews, especially in Al- 
sace, complained of their unendurable misery, and 
the Christian populace, of their intolerable impov- 
erishment through the Jews. In Metz an anti- 
Jewish pamphlet had appeared, entitled " The 
Citizen's Cry against the Jews," which inflamed the 
worst passions of the people against them. The 
pamphlet was indeed prohibited ; but what slander- 
ous assertion, however incredible, has ever been 
without result ? Appearances, in point of fact, were 
against the Jews. A young Jewish author, the first 
Alsatian Jew who wrote in French, published a 
stinging reply (1787), which justified the expectation 
that the Jews would no longer, as in Voltaire's time, 
permit such insults to pass unnoticed, but would 
emerge from their attitude of silent suffering. 
Isaiah Berr Bing (born 1759 ; died 1805), well-edu- 
cated and eloquent, better acquainted with the 
history of his people than his Jewish contemporaries, 
including even the Berlin leaders, rebutted every 
charge with convincing emphasis. 

Through these writings for and against the Jews, 
the Jewish question became prominent in France. 
The Royal Society of Science and Arts in Metz 
offered a prize for the best essay in answer to the 
question, " Are there means to make the Jews 
happier and more useful in France ?" Three re- 
plies, all in favor of the Jews, were sent in by 
two Christian inquirers, and one Jewish, the Abbe 
Gregoire, Thiery, the member of Parliament for 
Nancy, and Salkind Hurwitz the Pole, of Kovno 


(on the Niemen), who had emigrated to Paris. 
That of Gregoire, however, had the greatest effect. 
Gregoire was a simple nature, and in the midst of 
universal corruption had preserved a pure, child- 
like mind. 

When these apologetic pamphlets appeared, the 
storm-charged clouds of the Revolution, which were 
to bring about destruction and reorganization in the 
world, had already gathered. The fetters of a 
double slavery, beneath which European nations 
groaned, that of the State and the Church, were at 
length, in one country at least, to be broken. As 
if touched by a magic wand, France turned into a 
glowing furnace, where all the instruments of serf- 
dom were consumed, and out of the ashes arose 
the French nation, rejuvenated, destined for great 
things, the first apostle of the religion of freedom, 
which it loved with passionate devotion. Was it 
not natural to expect the hour to strike for the 
redemption of the most abased people, the Jews ? 
Two of their most ardent defenders sat in that part 
of the National Assembly which, truly representa- 
tive of the nation, restored inalienable rights to 
those so long disinherited by Church and State. 
These representatives were Mirabeau, one of the 
fathers of the Revolution, and the Abbe Gregoire, 
who owed his election to his essay in defense of 
the Jews. 

At the outbreak of the Revolution, there lived in 
France scarcely 50,000 Jews almost half of whom 
(20,000) dwelt in Alsace under the most oppres- 
sive yoke. In Metz, the largest, " the pattern com- 
munity/' only 420 Jewish families were tolerated, 
and in the whole of Lorraine only 180, and these 
were not allowed to increase. In Paris, in spite of 
stringent prohibitions, a congregation of about 500 
persons had gathered (since 1 740) ; about as many 
lived in Bordeaux, the majority of them of new- 
Christian or Portuguese descent. There were also 


some communities in the papal districts of Avignon 
and Carpentras. In Carpentras there dwelt about 
700 families (over 2,000 souls) with their own rab- 
binate. Those in the best condition were the Jews 
of Bordeaux and the daughter community of Bay- 
onne. Among the Jews of the various provinces 
there was as little connection as among those in 
other European countries. Misfortune had separ- 
ated them. Thus it happened that no concerted 
action was taken to obtain naturalization from the 
National Assembly at once, although Gregoire, the 
Catholic priest, true love for mankind in his heart, 
exhorted them to seize this favorable opportunity. 
They indeed boasted men of energy, filled with love 
for their race, and ready for self-sacrifice, men of 
tact, such as Cerf Berr, Furtado, Isaac Berr, and 
David Gradis, but at first no measures were taken. 
An appeal for united action may possibly have been 
made, but the pride of the Portuguese probably 
made it ineffectual. Therefore, in the first stormy 
months of the Revolution, nothing was undertaken 
for the emancipation of the Jews. The deputies in 
the States General or the National Assembly were 
sufficiently occupied without thinking of the Jews. 
Besides, they adhered rather closely to the pro- 
gramme enumerating the wishes of their electors, 
on which the emancipation of the Jews was not 
mentioned. The deputies of Alsace and Lorraine, 
in fact, had received instructions to attack the Jews. 
The assaults made upon the Jews in the German 
provinces, as a result of the disorders of the Revo- 
lution, first moved the victims to bring their com- 
plaints before the National Assembly. It was, per- 
haps, an advantage that the ripe fruit of liberty did 
not fall into their laps, but that they had to exert 
themselves energetically to obtain it ; for thus liberty 
became the more precious to them. 

The storming of the Bastille had finally torn the 
scepter from the deluded king, and handed it over 


to the people. The Revolution had tasted blood, 
and began to inflict punishment upon the tyrants. 
In many parts of the land, as if by agreement, 
castles were burnt down, monasteries destroyed, 
and the nobility maltreated or slain. The people, 
brought up in ignorance by the Church, and now 
released from the chains of slavery, knew not how 
to distinguish friend from foe, and rushed recklessly 
upon what lay nearest their stupid gaze. In Alsace 
the lower classes of the people at the same time 
made a fierce attack upon the Jews (beginning of 
August, 1 789) perhaps incited by secret Jew-haters 
destroying their houses, plundering their property, 
and forcing them to flee half-naked. They, who 
hitherto had been humiliated and enslaved by the 
nobles and the clergy, were now fellow-sufferers with 
their tyrants. The Alsatian Jews mostly escaped 
to Basle, and although no Jew was allowed to 
live there, the fugitives were sheltered and sympa- 
thetically treated. Complaints were made to the 
National Assembly of the excesses after the first 
draught of liberty; from that Assembly all expected 
help, no longer from the monarchy, which had already 
become a mere shadow. Every deputy received 
detailed reports of disquieting, sometimes sangui- 
nary, events. The ill-treated Jews of Alsace had 
turned to Gregoire, and he sketched (August 3) a 
gloomy picture of the outrages upon the Jews, and 
added that he, a servant of a religion which regards 
all men as brothers, requested the interference of 
the powerful arm of the Assembly on behalf of this 
despised and unhappy people. He also published a 
pamphlet, called "Proposals in Favor of the Jews/' 
to influence public opinion. Then followed the 
memorable night of the Fourth of August, which 
covered the French nation with eternal feme, when 
the nobles sacrificed their privileges on the altar of 
freedom, and acknowledged the equality of all citi- 
zensthe birth-hour of .a new order of things. In 


consequence of this agitation, and dreading that 
they might fall victims to anarchy, the Jews of the 
various provinces resolved to present petitions for 
admission into the fraternity of the French people ; 
but again they acted singly, and to some extent 
preferred contradictory requests. The Jews of 
Bordeaux had already joined the National Guard, 
and one was even appointed captain. They had 
only one desire, that their equalization be sealed by 
law, and this wish their four deputies, David Gradis, 
Furtado, Lopes-Dubec, and Rodrigues, publicly 
expressed. About a hundred Parisian Jews were 
also enrolled in the National Guard, and rivaled the 
other citizens in patriotism and revolutionary spirit. 
They sent eleven deputies to the National Assembly, 
who prayed for the removal of the ignominy which 
covered them as Jews, and for equalization by law, 
saying that the example of the French people would 
induce all the nations of the earth to acknowledge 
the Jews as brothers. The community of Metz 
desired besides that their oppressive taxes be 
removed, and the debts which they had contracted 
in consequence of the taxes be made void. The 
communities of Lorraine sent a delegate to the 
National Assembly, Berr Isaac Berr (born 1744; 
died 1828), who, a man of many virtues and merits, 
and an admirer of Mendelssohn and Wessely, had 
great influence. He drew up a petition containing 
the special request that the authority and autonomy 
of the rabbis in internal affairs be established and 
recognized by law. The deputies for Luneville and 
an adjacent community protested against this. It 
was a long time, however, before the Jewish ques- 
tion^ became the distinct order of the day. The 
National Assembly seemed to shrink from discuss- 
ing the point, for fear of stirring up public opinion 
still more passionately in the German provinces 
with their obstinate prejudices and hatred of Jews. 
Religious intolerance manifested itself even in 


the Assembly. On the 23d of August an exciting 
sitting was held. The subject of debate was 
whether the inviolable rights of man, to be placed 
at the head of the constitution, were to include 
religious freedom of conscience and freedom of 
worship. A deputy, De Castellane, had formulated 
this point plainly: "No man shall be molested on 
account of his religious opinions, nor disturbed in 
the practice of his belief." Against this motion a 
storm arose on the part of the Catholic Clergy and 
other representatives of Catholicism. They con- 
tinually spoke of a dominant religion or confession, 
which, as hitherto, should be supported by the State, 
whilst other creeds might be tolerated. In vain 
Mirabeau raised a bold protest against such pre- 

"The unrestricted freedom of belief is so sacred in my eyes, that 
even the word tolerance sounds despotic to me, because the very 
existence of an authority empowered to tolerate, injures freedom, in 
that it tolerates, because it might do the reverse." 

But his powerful voice was drowned by the op- 
posing clamor. The clever speech of another 
deputy, Rabaud Saint Etienne, however, gained the 
victory for freedom of conscience. He spoke also 
on behalf of the Jews. 

"I demand liberty for the nation of the Jews, always contemned, 
homeless, wandering over the face of the whole globe, and doomed 
to humiliation. Banish forever the aristocracy of thought, the feudal 
system of opinion, which desires to rule others and impose compulsion 
upon them," 

Amidst strong opposition the law was passed, 
which has since become the basis of the European 
constitution : 

" No one shall be molested on account of his religious opinions, 
in so far as their outward expression does not disturb public order as 
established by law." 

Therewith one point in the petition of the French 
Jews was disposed of. But when the Jewish question 
afterwards came on for treatment (September 3), 


it was postponed, and handed over to a committee. 
Three weeks later the Assembly was again obliged 
to deal with the Jewish question. Persecutions 
which the Jews underwent in certain places forced 
it upon them. Those in Nancy were threatened 
with pillage, because they were reproached with 
having bought up provisions and raised the prices. 
The Jewish question became so pressing, that the 
order of the day (on September 28) was interrupted 
by it. It was again Gregoire who defended the 
persecuted. He was supported by Count Cler- 
mont-Tonnerre, a sincere friend of liberty. With 
glowing eloquence he pointed out that Christian 
society was guilty of the degradation of the Jews, 
and that it must offer them some atonement. The 
Assembly thereupon resolved that the president 
address a circular letter to the various towns, 
stating that the declaration of the rights of man, 
which the Assembly had accepted, comprehended 
all men upon earth, therefore also the Jews, who 
were no longer to be harassed. The king, with 
his enfeebled authority, was asked to protect the 
Jews from further persecutions. This action, how- 
ever, produced no results for the sufferers. The 
Jews of Alsace remained exposed to attack, as 
before. The Jewish representatives of the three 
bishoprics of Alsace and Lorraine lost patience, 
seeing that their equalization was being constantly 
deferred. They therefore strove to obtain a hearing 
for themselves. Introduced by the deputies of 
Lorraine to the National Assembly (October 14), 
Berr, the indefatigable advocate of his co-religion- 
ists, delivered a speech, in which he portrayed the 
sufferings of a thousand years, and implored humane 
treatment for them. He worthily fulfilled his task. 
He was obliged to be brief; the Assembly, which 
had to establish a new edifice upon the ruins of the 
old kingdom, could not spare time for long speeches. 
President Preteau replied that the Assembly would 


feel itself happy to be able to afford rest and happi- 
ness to the Jews of France. The meeting applauded 
his words, permitted the Jewish deputies to be 
present as guests at the proceedings, and promised 
to take the equalization of the Jews into consideration 
at the next sitting. From this time the French Jews 
confidently hoped that their emancipation would be 

Meanwhile, the Revolution had again made a 
gigantic stride forward : the people had brought the 
proud French sovereign like a prisoner from Ver- 
sailles to Paris. The deputies also moved to Paris, 
and the capital became more and more infected with 
revolutionary fever. The youthful Parisian Jews, as 
well as the immigrants, took great interest in all 
occurrences. Even the middle classes aided the 
cause of the fatherland by supplying funds. At 
length the Jewish question was to be settled. A 
deputy was appointed to report upon it, and a special 
sitting called. But it was brought into connection 
with another question, namely, the franchise of 
executioners, actors, and Protestants, to whom the 
Catholic population in some towns did not wish to 
grant permission to vote. 

The report was sent in by Clermont-Tonnerre, 
and spoke most logically in favor of all four classes. 
All sincere friends of liberty, Robespierre, Duport, 
Barnave, and, of course, Mirabeau, expressed them- 
selves in favor of the Jews and their fellow-sufferers. 
The followers of the old school opposed them with 
determination, chief among them Abbe Maury, 
Bishop LaFare of Nancy, and the bishop of Clermont. 
Only one ultra-revolutionist, Reubell, from Alsace, 
spoke against the Jews, maintaining that it was dan- 
gerous forthwith to grant complete rights of citizen- 
ship to those resident in Alsace, against whom there 
was deeply-rooted hatred. Abbe Maury produced 
utterly false, or partially true statements, as argu- 
ments for unfriendly behavior towards the Jews. 


He even quoted Voltaire's anti-Jewish writings in 
order to prejudice the Assembly. The Assembly 
hesitated; it feared to attack the gross prejudice 
entertained by the populace of the eastern provinces 
against the Jews. At the representation of one of 
the deputies, the equalization of the Jews was sepa- 
rated from that of the Protestants, and the resolu- 
tion ran in this equivocal manner: that the Assembly 
reserved to itself the right of deciding about the 
Jews, without determining upon anything new con- 
cerning them. This reservation was repeated at 
the discussion of the laws for the election of muni- 
cipal officers (January 8, 1790), from which Jews 
were excluded. 

This evasive decision grossly offended the Portu- 
guese Jews of Bordeaux. Hitherto they had tacitly 
enjoyed all the rights of citizens, and in their turn 
fulfilled all their duties with self-sacrificing readiness. 
Now they were to be kept in uncertainty about their 
civil status, in company with the German Jews, against 
whom they bore an antipathy not less than that 
of hostile Christians. They therefore hastily de- 
spatched a deputation to Paris to cause this in- 
jurious resolution to be rescinded. As the popula- 
tion were on better terms with the Portuguese, their 
request was easily obtained. The deputy for Bor- 
deaux, De Seze, spoke warmly on their behalf. 
Talleyrand, then bishop of Autun, was appointed 
to report upon the matter, and concisely suggested 
(February 28), that those Jews who had hitherto 
enjoyed civil rights as naturalized Frenchmen should 
continue to enjoy that privilege. The enemies of 
the Jews, of course, opposed this motion, fearing 
that it would apply also to German Jews. 

Nevertheless, the majority decided that those 
Jews^ in France who were called Portuguese, 
Spaniards, or Avignonese (of Bordeaux and Bay- 
onne) should enjoy full privileges as active citizens, 
and the king at once approved of this law. It was 

CH. XI. GODARD. 443 

the first legal recognition of the Jews as citizens, 
and, though only a partial recognition, it at least 
would serve as a precedent. 

The deputies of the Jews from German districts 
did not so easily attain success ; they had to struggle 
hard for equality. At the same time they lighted 
upon a means whereby to bring pressure to bear 
upon the National Assembly, and induce them to 
concede them full citizenship. There were five men 
who worked most perseveringly to remove all 
obstacles. They won over to their side the fiery, 
eloquent advocate Godard, to plead their cause 
with pen and tongue. They knew that power was 
no longer in the hands of the National Assembly, 
but had been seized by the parties of the capital, who, 
with their revolutionary ardor, held complete sway 
over Paris, the deliberating Assembly, the king, 
almost the whole country. The Jewish representa- 
tives from Paris, Alsace, and Lorraine therefore 
turned to them for help. They had Godard draw 
up a petition to the National Assembly, stating that 
the emancipation of the Jews was not only demanded 
by the principles of the Constituent Assembly and 
by justice, but that it was cruelty to withhold it. 
For, so long as their equality was not legally 
established, the people would believe that they were 
indeed the outcasts their enemies had described 
them to be. But even more efficacious than this 
petition was a scene which the Parisian Jews 
arranged with their advocate, before the General 
Assembly of the Paris Commune ; it decided the 
question. Fifty Jewish members of the National 
Guards, adorned with cockades, among them Salkind 
Hurwitz, the Pole, appeared as deputies before the 
Assembly of the Commune, and petitioned that the 
city of Paris itself should energetically set about 
obtaining equality for the Jews. Godard delivered 
a fiery speech in their support. The president of 
the General Assembly, Abbe Mulct, replied to this 


vigorous address with the fervid eloquence peculiar to 
the orators of the Revolution : " The chasm between 
their religious conceptions and the truth which we 
as Christians profess, cannot hinder us as men from 
approaching each other, and even if we reproach 
each other with our errors and complain of each 
other, at least we can love each other." In the 
name of the meeting he promised to support the 
petition of the Paris Jews for equalization. Next 
day (January 29, 1790), the Jews of Paris obtained 
a certificate, couched in most flattering terms, and 
testifying to their excellent reputation, from the 
inhabitants of the district of the Carmelites, where 
most Jews dwelt at this time. 

The six deputies appointed for the district of the 
Carmelites then went to the City Hall, to support 
the resolution in favor of the Jews. One of them, 
Cahier de Gerville, afterwards a minister, delivered 
an impressive address. " Do not be surprised," 
said he, " that this district hastens to be the first to 
make public recognition of the patriotism, the cour- 
age, and the nobility of the Jews who dwell in it. 
No citizen has proved himself more zealous for the 
gaining of liberty than the Jew, . . . none has 
displayed more sense of order and justice, none 
shown more benevolence towards the poor, and 
readiness in voluntarily contributing towards the 
expenses of the district* Let us attack all pre- 
judices, and attack them with determination. Let 
not one of the monstrosities of despotism and 
ignorance survive the new birth of liberty and the 
consecration of the rights of man. . . . Take 
into consideration the just and pressing demands in 
favor of our new brethren, and join your wishes to 
their petition, so that thus united they may come 
before the National Assembly. Do not doubt but 
that you will obtain, without trouble, for the Jews of 
Paris that which was not denied the Jews of Portu- 
gal, Spain, and Avignon. What reason is there for 


showing a preference for this class? Do not all 
Jews hold the same doctrines ? Are not our politi- 
cal conditions alike for the one as for the other? 
If the ancestors of those Jews on whose behalf we 
plead experienced more bitter suffering and perse- 
cution than the Portuguese Jews, then this long, 
cruel oppression which they have sustained should 
give them a new claim to national justice. For the 
rest, look to the origin of these strange and unjust 
distinctions, and see whether any one to-day dares 
set up a distinction of rights between, two classes of 
the ^ same people, two branches of the same stem, 
basing his action upon apocryphal tradition, or 
rather upon chimeras and fables/' 

To this speech the President Abbe Mulot replied, 
bringing into prominence the fact that the report 
from the district of the Carmelites was to be con- 
sidered of great weight in favor of the Jews. 

The next speech, that of Abbe Bertolio, at length 
induced the meeting to add its favorable testimony 
to the Jews of Paris, and to express the wish to the 
National Assembly that these Jews, most of them 
of German birth, be put on an equal footing with 
the Portuguese. Mayor Bailly and his committee 
on the same day passed the resolution, that as soon 
as the other districts announced their approval, the 
whole weight of the influence of the municipality of 
Paris be exerted on behalf of the equalization of the 
Jews. In the course of the following month all the 
city districts, with the exception of that of the 
Halles, sent in their approval of the decision of the 
Carmelite district. Accordingly, a deputation of 
the Commune, together with its president, Abbe 
Mulot, officially commissioned by the capital (Feb- 
ruary 25), presented itself at the meeting of the 
National Assembly, to request, or rather by moral 
suasion to compel, that body to extend to Jews 
resident in Paris the decree declaring the Portu- 
guese Jews full citizens. 


After some delay, certain deputies demanded 
(April 15) that the Jewish question be placed on the 
order of the day. Abbe Maury again opposed the 
motion, and promised to present a memorial which 
the Jews should be called upon to answer. In 
order, however, to protect the Jews of Alsace from 
the attacks of mobs, the Assembly again decreed 
that they were under protection of the laws, and 
that the magistrates and the National Guard were 
to take precautions for their security. In this way 
they appeased their consciences. The king forth- 
with sanctioned (April 18) the law of protection for 
the Alsatian Jews, after which the question was not 
broached for three months. 

Fortunately the Jewish question did not stand 
isolated, but was connected with other questions. 
The Jews of Alsace, especially those of Metz, had 
to pay high protection -taxes. When the subject of 
finances came on for discussion, the Assembly had 
to determine whether this tax should continue or 
cease. They came to a liberal decision, although 
the deputies were sorely troubled about the deficit 
thus created. The secretary of the committee of 
the crown land, Vismes, first showed how unjust it 
was that the community of Metz, which Louis XIV, 
once when in good humor, had given to the Duke 
of Brancas and the Countess De Fontaine, should 
pay annually to the house of Brancas 20,000 francs. 
He therefore proposed that the Jew taxes should 
be remitted without any indemnification, and that 
every tribute, under whatever name protection- 
money, residence-tax, or tolerance-money should 
cease. This proposal was passed into law (July 20) 
almost without opposition. Louis XVI, who by 
this act saw another remnant of the Middle Ages 
vanish, at first showed himself tardy in confirming 
the law (August 7). Ten years previously the Jews 
of Alsace had in vain presented a memorial to the 
state council detailing the misery of their condition ; 


it received no notice. Owing to the sudden revo- 
lution of affairs, they now achieved in less than an 
hour more than they had ever dared hope for. 

But the National Assembly would not proceed to 
deal with the chief demand of the Jews of the Lower 
Rhine as these districts were then called to 
grant them civil rights. Several had expressed 
themselves favorably, when the Due de Broglie 
intervened with a violent speech. He asserted 
that the proposed resolution would engender new 
causes of excitement in Lorraine and Alsace T 
already in a state of ferment owing to the action of 
the clergy who refused to take the oath. Strasburg 
was likewise greatly excited on account of the Jews, 
who desired to settle there, where hitherto no Jew 
had been permitted. De Broglie further remarked 
that the general body of Jews in Alsace was utterly 
indifferent to citizenship ; that the petition presented 
in their name was an intrigue carried on by four or 
five Jews ; especially one, who had amassed a great 
fortune at the expense of the state (Cerf Berr), was 
scattering large sums of money most liberally in 
Paris, to gain adherents for the scheme of equaliza- 
tion. ^His motion to adjourn this question till the 
Constitution was finished was carried. 

But the Constitution was definitely fixed and 
ratified by the king (September, 1791), and the 
German-speaking Jews of France did not obtain the 
equality so often promised. Only the paragraph 
in the " Rights of Man," which said that no one 
might be molested on account of his religious opin- 
ions, benefited them. At last, a few days before the 
dissolution of the National Assembly, the Jews were 
remembered by one of the friends of liberty, Duport, 
a member of the Jacobin Club, formerly a parliament- 
ary councilor. In a speech of a few words he pro- 
cured the equality they so much desired. He drew 
the natural conclusion from the above-quoted rights 
of religious freedom, and said, " I believe that freedom 


of thought does not permit any distinction in political 
rights on account of a man's creed. The recognition 
of this equality is always being postponed. Mean- 
while the Turks, Moslems, and men of all sects, are 
permitted to enjoy political rights in France. I 
demand that the motion for adjournment be with- 
drawn, and a decree passed that the Jews in France 
enjoy the privileges of citizenship (citoyens actifs)." 
This proposition was accepted amid loud applause. 
In vain did Reubell strive to oppose the motion, he 
was interrupted. Another member suggested that 
every one who spoke against this motion be called 
to order, because he would be opposing the Consti- 
tution itself. Thus the National Assembly adopted 
(September 27, 1791) Duport's proposal, and next 
day formulated the law that all exceptional regula- 
tions against Jews be abrogated, and that the 
German Jews be admitted to the oath of citizenship. 
Two days later the National Assembly was dis- 
solved, to make way for a still more violent revolu- 
tionary assembly. A few days later Louis XVI 
confirmed this full equalization of the French Jews 
(November 13, 1791). They were not required to 
swerve one iota from their religion as the price of 
emancipation ; all demanded of them being that 
they forego certain ancient privileges. 

Berr Isaac Berr was justified in rejoicing at this 
success, in which he had had a large share. He at 
once despatched a letter of congratulation to his 
co-religionists, to rouse enthusiasm for their newly- 
attained freedom, and at the same time incline them 
to appropriate improvements. 

" At length the day has arrived on which the veil is torn asunder 
which covered us with humiliation ! We have at last again obtained 
the rights of which we have been deprived for eighteen centuries. 
How deeply at this moment should we recognize the wonderful grace 
of the God of our forefathers 1 On the 27th September we were the 
only inhabitants of this great realm who seemed doomed to eternal 
humiliation and slavery, and on the very next day, a memorable 
day which we shall always commemorate, didst Thou inspire these 
immortal legislators of France to utter one word which caused 60,000 


unhappy beings, who had hitherto lamented their hard lot, to be 
suddenly plunged into the intoxicating joys of the purest delight." 

"God chose the noble French nation to reinstate us in our due 
privileges, and bring us to a new birth, just as in former days He 

selected Antiochus and Pompey to degrade and oppress us 

This nation asks no thanks, except that we show ourselves worthy 

Berr added certain important, timely remarks, in 
which he gently pointed out to his French co-reli- 
gionists faults growing out of their former wretched 
plight, and admonished them to remove these faults. 

He also supplied the French Jews with means to 
enable them to become thorough Frenchmen and 
at the same time remain members of the House of 
Jacob. The Bible was to be rendered into French 
on the basis of Mendelssohn's German translation, 
and put into the hands of the young, so that the 
corrupt German language which they used might be 
completely banished from their midst. Berr thus 
attacked a foolish prejudice which regarded the 
German or Jewish-German dialect as akin in sanc- 
tity to the Hebrew, therefore a more worthy organ 
for Divine Service than the language of Voltaire. 

Berr was thoroughly imbued with the conviction 
that Judaism was in every way compatible with 
liberty, civilization, and patriotism for the country 
which had restored to his co-religionists their rights 
as men. Berr was a better disciple of Mendelssohn 
than David Friedlander and the Berlin Jews. 

With great assiduity and self-sacrifice, most of 
the French Jews interested themselves in the wel- 
fare of the state which had given them a fatherland, 
liberty, and equality. They destroyed at one blow 
all the calumniations of their opponents, who had 
asserted that as Jews they would not be able to 
fulfill the duties of citizens. They came to the 
front whenever the state stood in need of help. 
A large number of Jews in this feverish time calling 
forth courageous action, threw aside with wonderful 
rapidity the shy, grovelling manner which had 


debarred them from intercourse with the world, and 
had subjected them to general ridicule. When the 
French legions, inspired by freedom, had put to 
rout the mercenary troops of Germany, Moses 
Ensheim, the Hebrew poet of the Mendelssohn 
school, composed a fiery triumphal hymn, similar 
to the song of Deborah, which was solemnly chanted 
in the synagogue. The Jews, however, took no 
part whatever in the bloody atrocities of the Revo- 

In the frenzy of the Reign of Terror, which like a 
scourge of God fell upon the innocent and the 
guilty, some Jews also suffered. The familiarity of 
the Jews with persecutions, their acuteness, and 
the dexterity with which they effaced themselves, 
their obedience to the precept, " Bend thy head a 
moment, till the storm is passed/' protected them 
against wide-spread massacre. In general, they 
were not stirred by the ambition to thrust them- 
selves forward, or a desire to take part in affairs ; 
nor did they give offense to the rulers of the hour. 
Thus the storm of the Revolution rushed over them 
without serious results. 

The attack upon a belief in God, when the two 
blaspheming deputies, Chaumette and Hebert, 
succeeded in inducing the convention (November, 
1 793 May, 1 794) to set up the religion of Reason, 
had likewise no effect upon the Jews. The intense 
hostility and anger felt to religion and the Divinity 
were directed only against Catholicism, or Christ- 
ianity, by whose servants mankind had ever been 
degraded, who themselves had sacrificed myriads of 
victims, and during the Revolution had fomented a 
civil war. The Reign of Terror, the Massacre of 
September, and the Guillotine, had been conjured 
up by them almost as a sad, stern necessity, be- 
cause, together with the feudal aristocracy, they 
were bitter enemies of freedom. The decree of 
the Convention ran thus : " The Catholic faith is 


annulled, and replaced by the worship of Reason." 
This represented not alone the mood of the most 
advanced, the Jacobins ; it was the inclination of the 
French people to oppose the Church and its fol- 
lowers fiercely, because of a feeling that they are 
naturally hostile to liberty. Twenty days after the 
resolution of the Convention had been passed, 
more than 2,300 churches were transformed into 
Temples of Reason. The law included no provis- 
ions against Jews and Protestants. Only the mag- 
istrates or fanatically inclined members of clubs in 
the provinces, principally, it appears, in the old 
German districts, extended the order for the sup- 
pression of religion to the Jews also. In Nancy an 
official demanded of the Jews of the town, in the 
name of the city council, that they attend on an ap- 
pointed day at the National Temple, and together 
with the clergy of other creeds renounce " their 
superstition," and further surrender all the silver 
and golden vessels of the synagogue. Brutal and 
riotous men forced their way into the synagogues, 
tore the Holy Writings from the Arks and burnt 
them, or searched the houses for books written in 
Hebrew in order to destroy them. Prayers in the 
synagogues of certain congregations were forbidden 
just as in the churches. By reason of the spy sys- 
tem which the revolutionary clubs supported, to en- 
able them to oppose the imminent counter-revolu- 
tion, even private meetings for religious purposes 
were attended with great danger. When the order 
of the Convention was issued, decreeing that every 
tenth day be observed as a day of rest, and making 
Sunday a working day, the Mayors of certain cities, 
as of Strasburg and Troyes, extended this decree 
also to the Sabbath. They commanded that Jew- 
ish merchants display their wares for sale on the 
Sabbath. In agricultural districts Jews were com- 
pelled, on the Sabbath and on Jewish Holidays, to 
mow and gather in the crops, and rabbis as well as 


bishops were molested. David Sinzheim, who 
lived in Strasburg, and afterwards became president 
of the great French Synhedrion, was forced to flee 
from town to town to escape imprisonment or 
death. In Metz the Jews dared not openly bake 
their Passover cakes, until a clever Jewish matron 
had the courage to explain to the officers of the 
Revolution that this bread had always been a sym- 
bol of freedom with the Jews. In Paris Jewish 
schoolmasters were compelled to conduct their 
pupils to the Temple of Reason into which the 
church of Notre Dame had been transformed on 
the Decadi. However, this persecution passed 
away without any serious effects. With the victory 
of the Thermidorians (9 Thermidor July 27, 1794.) 
over Robespierre, the Reign of Terror began to die 
out. The populace was anxious to resort to milder 
means. The equalization of the French Jews t once 
definitely settled, remained untouched through all 
changes of government. The new Constitution of 
the year Three of the Republic, or the Constitution 
of the Directory (autumn of 1795), recognized the 
adherents of Judaism, without further difficulty, as 
on an equal footing with all around them ; moreover, 
it wiped away the last trace of inequality, inasmuch 
as the Catholic Church was no more than the syna- 
gogue acknowledged to be the state church. The 
law laid down the fundamental proposition, that no 
one can be compelled to contribute to the expenses 
of a church establishment, as the Republic subsi- 
dized none. Only the community of Metz had 
to suffer under some baneful effects of the Middle 

Together with the victorious French troops of 
the .Republic, the deliverance of the Jews, of the 
most oppressed race of the ancient world, advanced 
from one place to another. It took firm root in 
Holland, which had been changed into a Batavian 
Republic (beginning of 1 795). Here several energetic 


Jews, among them Asser (Moses and Carolus), 
De Lemon, and Bromet, had joined a club, called 
Felix Libertate, which had taken the motto of the 
French Republic Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. 
These state maxims were on the whole adopted 
by the assembled States General (March 4, 1795). 
Although the 50,000 Jews of Holland, who formed 
the thirty-ninth part of the whole population of the 
country, and were divided into the Portuguese and 
German communities, might justly have regarded 
this land as their Paradise, they had hitherto been 
laboring under many disadvantages as compared 
with Christians. They were suffered to exist only 
as corporate bodies, little commonwealths, as it were, 
in the midst of larger ones. That they were exclu- 
ded from public offices did not trouble them. But 
they were also debarred from several trade-guilds, 
and this was a matter of great importance to them. 
They had to contribute to the ruling church establish- 
ment and to its schools without deriving any benefit 
therefrom. Also, there was no lack of vexatious 
grievances. In Amsterdam, for instance, when a 
Jewish couple went to register their wedding, they 
were compelled to wait till Christians had been 
attended to, and, besides, to pay double fees. On 
this account the demand for equalization became 
pressing, more on the part of the German than on that 
of the Portuguese Jews, the latter, wealthy and of 
noble birth, being generally treated with distinction 
by the patricians, whilst the Germans were despised 
as wretched Poles. In the first excitement of the 
agitation several disabilities of the Jews of Holland 
or Batavia were removed, and voices were raised in 
favor of their admission to full civil rights. But 
later on, as in France, writings hostile to the Jews 
roused public opinion against them. Amongst these 
Van Swieden's work, entitled " Advice to the Repre- 
sentatives of the People/* especially produced a 
great impression. 


He asserted that owing to their origin, their 
character, their history, and their belief in the 
Messiah, the Jews remained strangers, and could 
not be absorbed by the state. This statement was 
in a measure accepted by the official representatives 
of Judaism as correct. For strangely enough ^ the 
rabbis and administrators of Jewish affairs, especially 
the powerful Parnassim in Amsterdam, alike in the 
Portuguese and German communities, were averse 
to equalization. They feared that Judaism would 
suffer from the great freedom of the Jews and from 
their new duties, such as military service. 

In a circular letter they declared that the Jews 
renounced citizenship, seeing that it was opposed to 
the commands of Holy Writ. Within a short time 
this declaration was covered with more than one 
thousand signatures. Although Jews were invited, 
but few took part in the election of the first Batavian 
National Assembly (Nationale Vergadering). Thus 
it happened that Amsterdam, which contained more 
than 20,000 Jews, did not return a single Jewish 
deputy. The Jewish friends of liberty in Holland 
were in a sorry plight, having to combat enemies 
within and without. They were driven to exert all 
their energy to overcome this double difficulty. 
David Friedrichsfeld, a member of the school of the 
Measfim, who had settled in Amsterdam, composed 
an excellent work (about 1 795) against the assailants 
of the Jews, called " Investigation of Van Swieden's 
Work in Reference to the Civil Rights of the Jews/' 
Beside him, six distinguished and intelligent Jews 
most of them of German descent developed the 
greatest zeal to accomplish the emancipation of 
the Jews of Holland. They were: Herz Bromet, 
who had long lived in Surinam, where he was recog- 
nized as a free citizen, and whence he had brought 
a knowledge of politics and a fortune ; Moses Asser, 
who had been appointed knight of the Belgian 
Order of the Lion ; another Asser, Carolus, and 


Isaac de Jonghe, all distinguished members of the 
German community. Only two of the Portuguese 
community participated in the endeavor to obtain 
equalization of rights : the highly respected physician 
Herz de Lemon, and Jacob Sasportas. They pre- 
sented a petition to the Batavian National Assembly 
(March 29, 1796), which held its sittings at the 
Hague, demanding the emancipation of the Batavian 
Jews as a right ; inasmuch as they were citizens of 
the Batavian Republic, possessing the franchise, 
and had already exercised civil rights, they prayed 
the Assembly to declare that they might enjoy this 
privilege in its entirety. The National Assembly 
considered the petition, and appointed a commission 
to advise and decide upon it. When the Jewish 
question came on for discussion (August, 1796), 
excitement ran high, and the tension between the 
parties was great. 

Although the emancipation of the Jews in the 
Batavian Republic had been recognized in principle, 
and practically acknowledged by the permission to 
vote at the election, there were still many opponents 
to contend against, almost more than in France. 
The conservative Dutch deputies in their hearts 
believed firmly in the Bible, and they considered as 
the word of God the writings of the New Testa- 
ment, in which it was said that the Jews were out- 
casts, and should remain so. The relatively large 
number of Jews, their wealth, respectability, and 
intelligence, gave cause for grave fears that they 
would make their way into the highest offices of the 
state, and expel the Christians. Sixty or a hundred 
thousand Jews, in the great territory of France, were 
lost like a grain of sand in an immense plain, but 
fifty thousand among two millions, especially twenty 
thousand Jews in Amsterdam among two hundred 
thousand Christians, might make themselves felt, 
and effect their purpose. One of the deputies, 
Lublink de Jonghe, dwelt upon this state of affairs 


with great emphasis. If the friends of the Jews 
pointed to America, where, as in France, they had 
recently attained to full civil rights, then he brought 
into prominence the unequal proportion of numbers; 
in Holland their great number would soon invest 
the populace with Jewish characteristics. The noble 
Portuguese might be admitted to full rights ; but as 
to the German Jews, the majority of whom were 
outcasts, Lublink de Jonghe quoted Pinto's work 
against Voltaire, in which he, a Jew himself, had 
plainly shown the vast difference between the Portu- 
guese and the German Jews. Thus the artificial 
caste feeling, within the fold of Judaism, brought 
about its own revenge. The fear was still greater 
that the number of the Jews in Holland might be 
considerably increased by Immigrants from Germany 
and Poland, whose goal, for a long time past, had 
been Amsterdam. Opponents to the scheme of 
equalization could further adduce the argument 
that the majority of Jews did not desire emancipa- 
tion, and that the six petitioners had acted without 
authority. Noel, the French ambassador, in some- 
what imperious fashion, took the first step in favor 
of the equalization of the Jews. After a long debate, 
the complete equality of the Batavian Jews was 
finally decreed (September 2, 1796), with the addi- 
tion, for those who wished to make use of it. There- 
upon all earlier provincial and municipal laws which 
referred to their disabilities were abolished. 

The Jews in Holland did not receive the announce- 
ment of this decision with joy, as those in France, 
when the rights of equality had been granted them. 
They had not felt the deprivation of liberty enough 
to go into ecstasies about their new freedom. They 
had no ambition to obtain state offices, and saw in 
citizenship only a burden and a danger to religion. 
They therefore were embittered against those who 
had procured their equalization, and so had broken 
asunder the bonds which held the two congregations 


together as corporate bodies. Thus there arose 
causes for dispute and internal dissension in Am- 

The liberal-minded, most of whom belonged to 
the German community, demanded that the regula- 
tions which endowed the rabbis, and to a greater 
extent the Parnassim, or wardens, with powerful 
authority over the members, should be altered in 
accordance with the spirit of the age. The leaders 
of the community not only refused this demand, 
but even threatened the petitioners with fines. 
Upon^this the advanced left the existing synagogue, 
established their own congregation, and declared 
that they constituted the real community (Adath 
Jeshurun, formed at the end of 1 796). The conser- 
vative members of the old qpmmunity thereupon 
passed a kind of interdict upon the separatists, for- 
bade their own congregants to have any intercourse, 
or to intermarry with them. The political diver- 
gence of opinion at the same time became a relig- 
ious one ; for the supporters of the new congrega- 
tion, Adath Jeshurun, initiated a sort of reform. 
They struck out of their ritual the formula of im- 
precation (v'la-Malshinim), which had originally 
been directed against the apostate Jewish Christ- 
ians, but by misinterpretation was afterwards 
applied to all Christians. They abolished the 
practice of hastily burying the dead, and erected a 
new, clean communal bath, innocent reforms, 
which, however, were regarded by the strictly ortho- 
dox as grave offenses against Judaism. The new 
congregation succeeded in having the fanatical 
leaders of the German community, who were more 
inconsiderate than the Portuguese in their opposi- 
tion to those who had withdrawn from their midst, 
removed from their posts, probably through the 
action of the French ambassador Noel. Among 
the new council officers, members of the new con- 
gregation were elected. Gradually many of the 


old party became reconciled to the new order of 
things and to the aspirations of the liberal-minded 
section. . The orthodox were also greatly flattered 
when two Jews, Bromet and De Lemon, were 
elected as deputies for Amsterdam. Several at- 
tended at the Hague at the opening of the second 
National Assembly (September i, i/97)^ to partici- 
pate in the honor of the Jewish deputies. ^ They 
were still more pleased with the idea of equalization 
when the Jewish deputy, Isaac da Costa Atias, was 
successively elected a member of the city council, 
of the National Assembly, and finally to the posi- 
tion of President of the same (1798). The head 
of the Batavian Republic, the Grand Pensioner 
Schimmelpenink, was in earnest about the emanci- 
pation of the Jews, and without hesitation appointed 
able Jews to public offices. The first appointment 
to public posts in Europe was made in Holland. 

It was natural that a sense of self-importance and 
honorable pride should be awakened in the breasts 
of the liberal members of the new congregation, 
among whom state offices were distributed. Indig- 
nation seized them when they saw that the Jews 
under the German princes were still treated as 
outcasts or wild beasts. They therefore laid a pro- 
posal before the National Assembly, entreating 
that the Batavian ambassador to the French Re- 
public be instructed to move at the Peace Congress 
held at Rastadt, that the Dutch Jews in Germany 
should no longer be compelled to pay poll-tax, and 
to threaten that, unless this was granted, all Ger- 
mans journeying through Holland would be sub- 
jected to the same dishonorable treatment. The 
National Assembly agreed to this proposition. 

Righteous judgment soon overtook the German 
princes and people, who, stubborn as Pharaoh and 
the Egyptians, refused to loosen the chain of slav- 
ery from the Jews. They themselves were soon 
forced to become the scrvi camera of the French 


Republic, and to pay a poll-tax. Wherever in 
Germany and Italy the courageous French obtained 
firm footing, the Jews were made free. The walls 
of the Ghetto were burst open, and bent figures 
stood erect. 

The name of the invincible French, who had 
achieved wonderful victories in Italy, quickly spread 
abroad, even beyond Europe, and aroused terror 
and surprise in the most remote countries, A new 
Alexander, the Corsican Bonaparte, a god of war 
when^ scarcely thirty years old, set out with a com- 
paratively small army to subdue Egypt, and hoped 
to penetrate to India. In less than six months 
(July November, 1798) Egypt lay crushed at his 
feet. But a Turkish army was on its way to meet 
him, against which Bonaparte advanced into Pales- 
tine. Thus, through a marvelous series of historical 
events, the Holy Land became the scene of a bloody 
war between the representatives of the old and the 
new spirit in Europe. 

El^Arish and Gaza in the south-west of Palestine 
fell into the hands of the French army, which 
scarcely numbered 12,000 men (i;th and 25th 
February, 1799). The Jewish community of Gaza 
had fled. In Jerusalem the news of French victor- 
ies and cruelty created a panic. It was rumored 
that Napoleon was about to enter the Holy City. 
At the command of the sub-pasha, or Motusallim, 
the inhabitants began to throw up ramparts, the 
Jews taking part in the work. One of their rabbis, 
Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas, encouraged and even 
assisted them in their operations. The Turks had 
circulated the report that the French treated Jews 
particularly in a cruel manner. Bonaparte had 
issued a summons to the Asiatic and African Jews 
to march under his banners, promising to give them 
the Holy Land, and restore ancient Jerusalem to its 
pristine splendor. But the Jews in Jerusalem ap- 
pear either not to have trusted in these flattering 


words, or to have been utterly ignorant of the pro- 
clamation. Probably it was only a trick on the 
part of Bonaparte, intended to win over to his side 
the Jewish minister of the pasha of Acco, Chayim 
Maalem Farchi (assassinated in 1820), the soul of 
the defense of the important sea-fortress of Acco. 
Had Bonaparte succeeded in conquering Syria and 
carrying the war into the heart of Turkey, he would 
perhaps have assigned a share in his government to 
members of the Jewish nation upon whom the 
French could rely. But the appearance of Bona- 
parte in Palestine was like that of a terrible meteor, 
which disappears after causing much devastation. 
His dream to become Emperor of the East, and re- 
store Jerusalem to the Jews, quickly faded away. 

The glowing enthusiasm for France, where his 
enthralled co-religionists had been freed, had crea- 
ted a Jewish poet in Elia Halevi, while a Jewish 
youth was aroused to become a spirited orator, 
whose eloquence was always tinged with poetry. 
Michael Berr (born 1780, died 1843), a worthy son 
of Isaac Berr, who had so zealously striven for the 
emancipation of the Jews of France, in his youth 
aroused great hopes, by reason of his handsome, 
noble form, and his manifold talents. In him for 
the first time Jewish and French spirit met in har- 
monious combination. He was the first Jewish 
attorney in France. Animated by the ambition of 
courageous youth and in the glow of his fiery spirit, 
this young man conceived a bold idea, at the begin- 
ning of the new century, when peace was concluded. 
A Congress of the princes of Europe was expected 
to take place. To them and their people Michael 
Berr addressed a " Summons " in the name of " all 
the inhabitants of Europe professing the Jewish 
religion," praying them to free his co-religionists 
from oppression, and to guarantee to them the 
justice so long withheld. This youth voiced the 
hopes of rejuvenated Israel. Berr's summons was 


especially directed to the Germans, both to princes 
and nations, who still treated the Jews living in 
their midst as branded servi camera. 

Berr, who was inspired with love for his co-relig- 
ionists, preached to deaf ears, his burning words 
and convincing arguments finding no response in 
the hearts of the Eastern European people. In 
Austria, Prussia, and the numerous smaller German 
states, the Jews remained in their former abasement. 
In Berlin itself, the seat of enlightenment, Jewish 
physicians, however honorable their reputation, 
were not included in the list of their Christian fellow- 
practitioners, but were enumerated by themselves, 
relegated, as it were, to a medical Ghetto. Two 
men of the first rank, the greatest poet and the 
greatest thinker of the time, Gothe and Fichte, 
shared in the prejudices of the Germans against the 
Jews, and made no secret of it. Gothe, the repre- 
sentative of the aristocratic world, and Fichte, the 
defender of democratic opinion in Germany, both 
desired to see the Jews removed like plague 
patients beyond the pale of Christian society. 
Both were on bad terms with the Church, both 
looked upon Christianity with its belief in miracles 
as a folly, and both were considered atheists. Nev- 
ertheless they abhorred the Jews in the name of 
Jesus. Gothe's intolerance against the Jews can- 
not be taken as the expression of his personal pre- 
judice; he only showed how the current of opinion 
flowed in cultured German circles. 

Fichte, the one-sided complement of Kant, was 
still more savage and embittered against the Jews. 
Like most German metaphysicians, his philosophy 
was of a visionary nature before the outbreak of the 
French Revolution; 

Apparently Fichte bestowed great honor upon 
the Jews when he put them on a level with the 
nobility and the clergy. But he did not wish in any 
way to honor them, but rather to accuse them before 


the bar of public opinion. Fichte, the philosophical 
thinker, cherished the same ill-will against the Jews 
and Judaism as Gothe, the aristocratic poet, and 
Schleiermacher, the Gnostic preacher. 

Should civil rights be granted to Jews? Fichte 
opposed it in a most decided fashion; not even in 
the Christian state, in his view a petty state, con- 
trary to right and reason, should they be emanci- 
pated. " The only way I see by which civil rights 
can be conceded to them (the Jews) is to cut off all 
their heads in one -night, and to set new ones on 
their shoulders, which should contain not a single 
Jewish idea. The only means of protecting our- 
selves against them is to conquer their promised 
land and send them thither," History judged oth- 
erwise : new heads have not been set on the Jews, 
but on the Germans themselves. His .view was 
that Jews should not be persecuted, that, in fact, 
the rights of men should be granted them, " because 
they are men," but that they should be banished 
altogether. Even the clerical opponents of eman- 
cipation in France, Abbe Maury and Bishop La 
Fare, had not spoken of the Jews in so perverse 
and hateful a manner. Fichte may be regarded as 
the father and apostle of national German hatred of 
the Jews, of a kind unknown before, or rather never 
before so clearly manifested. Even Herder, al- 
though filled with admiration for Israel's antiquity 
and the people in its biblical splendor, the first to 
examine sacred literature from a poetical point of 
view felt an aversion to the Jews, which became 
apparent in his relations with Mendelssohn, whom 
it cost him an effort to treat in a friendly manner. 
Herder, it is true, prophesied a better time, when 
Christian and Jew would work together in concord 
on the structure of human civilization. But like 
Balaam of old, he pronounced his blessings upon 
Israel in a half-hearted way. This growing hostility 
to the Jews among the Germans was not noticed by 


educated Jews who dwelt in their midst, at least they 
did not combat it vigorously. Only one pamphlet 
from the pen of a Jewish author appeared at this 
time. Saul Asher wrote his " Eisenmenger the 
Second, an open letter to Fichte," but hardly any 
notice was taken of it. 

If the Jews met with no favor in the eyes of those 
who formed public opinion in Germany, who had 
raised it from antiquated customs to a brilliant height 
of culture, both in the democratic and in the aristo- 
cratic camps, but experienced at their hands only 
repulse and scorn, how much worse was their relation 
to the great mass of the populace, still engulfed in 
the depths of darkest ignorance and crudeness ! 
Two noble-minded Christians addressed to the Con- 

S-ess of Rastadt the soundest arguments that the 
erman Jews should be raised from their ignominious 
condition. One of them, an unknown philanthropist, 
hurled the shaft" of ridicule at the stupidity and 
bombastic haughtiness of the German Jew-haters, 
and the other, Christian Grund, demonstrated with 
pitiless logic the injustice with which the Jews were 
treated. Both desired to support the demand of 
the Dutch Jews to the diplomatic representatives, 
that the princes of Germany be compelled to respect 
the Jews, and that influence be brought to bear 
upon public opinion to that effect. Grund acted as 
a clever advocate for the Jews ; he complimented 
the Germans in order to win favor with them. 
41 The German Jews," said he, u venture to approach 
the German nation, capable of great deeds, the 
creator of its own destinies, not merely an imitator 
of the actions of other peoples, uniting their voice 
with that of their brethren, to petition the represen- 
tatives of the nation at Rastadt most respectfully 
for the abolition of those distinctions under which 
they live, and for the acquisition of greater rights." 
The answer of the German princes and rulers was 
not very- encouraging. 


The most disgraceful degradation and humiliation 
of the Jews consisted in the poll-tax, an impost 
unknown outside of Germany. Of what advantage 
was it that Emperor Joseph of Austria and Frederick 
William II had remitted it ? It still existed in all 
its hideousness in Central and Western Germany, 
in the districts of the Main and the Rhine, where 
diminutive states bordered close on other diminutive 
states of the extent of a square mile, and where 
turnpike after turnpike at short intervals presented 
itself. If a Jew took a day's journey, he passed 
through different territories, and at the borders of" 
each had to pay a poll-tax. A Jewish beggar, accom- 
panied by his young son, once exhibited his poll-tax 
bills, which amounted to a florin and a half for six 
days, paid in various places. The way in which the 
tax was levied was more degrading than the duty of 
paying it. Very often the tax amounted to a few 
kreuzers, which only the poor, who were not exempt 
from it, felt as a burden. But the brutal procedure 
of the officers, and the ignominious treatment at 
each frontier-line offended also the rich. As long 
as the French armies were encamped in German 
territory, the Jews escaped, paying the poll-tax. 
But no sooner was the peace ofLiineville concluded, 
and the French troops withdrawn, than the petty 
German princes re-imposed the tax, not in order to 
raise the small income derivable from this source, 
but to humiliate the Jews. They inflicted the 
insult also upon French Jews who crossed the 
Rhine for business purposes, defending their action 
by a literal construction of one of the articles of the 
peace of Campo Formio, which stated : " All 
business and intercourse shall for the present con- 
tinue under the same conditions as before the war." 
The French Jews, proud of their citizenship, would 
not submit, severed their business connections with 
Germany, and complained of the injustice to the 
French government, by whom the question was not 


lightly passed over. The government commissioner 
Jollivet despatched a circular letter (1801) to the 
agents of the French Republic resident at German 
courts, instructing them not to permit French 
citizens of the Israelite faith to be degraded to 
animals. They were to make earnest representa- 
tions to the governments concerned, and menace 
them with retaliation. . Several small princes, like 
those of Solms, gave heed, and forthwith removed 
the poll-tax ; from fear of the French the French 
Jews were freed from it, but it still weighed heavily 
upon German travelers. Every step towards the 
removal of oppressive restrictions in Germany was 
the result of great exertions. 

In consequence of the peace of Luneville, the 
Holy Roman Empire was now for the first time 
dismembered. The representatives of the Empire, 
assembled in Ratisbon, were driven to -seek means 
of bringing their disunited members into some sort 
of order, or to decide upon the indemnity for the 
damage suffered. To this conference of the ambas- 
sadors of eight princes, occupied with traffic in 
territory, and regarded by the short-sighted as 
representing the German nation, the German Jews 
presented a petition asking for passive citizenship 
(November 15, 1802). This entreaty was drawn 
up " in the name of the Jews of Germany," by state 
attorney Christopher Grund. Which congregation, 
or what individuals zealous for emancipation had 
commissioned him to do this is not exactly known. 
It appears that the petition originated in Frankfort. 
It prayed that the representatives of the Empire 
remove from the German Jews the burdensome 
distinctions under which they labored ; that the 
narrow confines in which they were forced to reside 
be thrown open, so that for the sake of health and 
free enjoyment of life, they might select their own 
dwelling-place in the cities. Further, that the 
bonds by which their population, their trade, and 


names famous in the struggle to remove^this odious 
impost, viz., Israel Jacobson and Wolff Breidenbach, 
The former, court agent and finance counselor to 
the Prince of Brunswick, succeeded in procuring 
the abolition of the poll-tax in the territories of 
Brunswick-Luneberg (April 23, 1803). During a 
number of years Wolff Breidenbach strove in the 
same cause, and effected more far- reaching results. 
Breidenbach was born in a village of that name near 
Cassel, 1751, and died at Offenbach 1829. He was 
a man of high culture, noble ideals, and so modest 
that his name has almost been forgotten in spite of 
all the sacrifices he made on behalf of the German 
Jews. He did not, like Jacobson, make provisions 
to have his name spread far and wide. 

Deeply moved by the annoyances, and the con- 
temptuous treatment inflicted on Jewish travelers in 
places where the tax was imposed, which came 
daily under the notice of Breidenbach in his business 
journeys, he determined at least to have the poll-tax 
remitted, and applied himself with all his energy to 
this task. Quietly he strove to have the chain 
loosened, where it weighed most heavily. He per- 
ceived that large sums of money would be required 
to provide presents for the police magistrates and 
the city clergy under the pretense of giving alms to 
the poor, and also " to erect beautiful monuments 
in honor of magnanimous princes" who would 
allow themselves to be influenced to leave the 
Jews untaxed and unoppressed. He was not able to 
meet this enormous expense out of his own means. 
He therefore issued a summons to German and 
foreign Jews (September, 1803), asking them to 
subscribe to a fund, from which the cost of abolish- 
ing the poll-tax might be defrayed. It was well 
known at the time who circulated this appeal, but 
out of modesty, Breidenbach did not append his 
name. By these means, and through negotiations 
with the minor German princes at the Diet in Ratis- 


bon, carried on with the friendly help of the imperial 
chancellor, Dalberg, and finally by the recommenda- 
tions of the princes themselves, who learned to 
esteem him, Breidenbach succeeded in obtaining the 
right of free passage for the Jews throughout the 
Rhineland and Bavaria. Even the narrow-minded, 
Jew-hating, most noble council of Frankfort was 
moved by Breidenbach's petition to abolish the 
poll-tax exacted at the gates and bridges. 

The petition of the Jews to the representatives of 
the Empire for civil privileges, however restricted, 
the feeling displayed by several princes in favor of 
removing their bonds, and other signs, made the 
Jew-haters of Germany suspect that the old con- 
dition of imperial serfdom would soon vanish. They 
were terror-struck; they could not conceive the 
idea that the down-trodden Jews should be raised 
from their abasement in Germany. This painful 
idea induced a host of authors, most of them jurists, 
as if by mutual agreement, to employ all their efforts 
in various parts of Germany in opposing the deliv- 
erance of the Jews from slavery. Among these 
men were Paalzow, Grattenauer, Buchholz, and many 
anonymous writers, who persisted in their hostility 
for several years (1803-1805). They displayed 
hatred to the Jews, so malignant that it savored of 
the days of the Black Death, of Capistrano, Pfeffer- 
korn, and the Dominicans. They produced an arti- 
ficial fog, to prevent the spread of rays of enlighten- 
ment In former days it had been the servants of 
the church who had branded the Jews with dishonor. 
Now the priests of justice assumed this part, and by 
perversion of justice sought to keep the Jews in 
servitude, for which course Fichte had prepared the 
way. As soon as the petition of the Jews reached 
the representatives of the Empire in Ratisbon, a 
jurist of South Germany opposed it, urging that a 
thousand reasons existed why Jews were unworthy 
of becoming citizens of the Empire and the pro- 


vinces. The greater number and the most obstinate 
of the representatives of this Jew-baiting movement 
had their seat in Berlin, the city of enlightenment 
and of the Christianity taught by Schleiermacher. 
The character, teachings, and history of the Jews, 
even their prophets and patriarchs, in fact, every- 
thing Jewish, was attacked by these cowardly writers, 
most of whom wrote anonymously, and was made 
the subject of foulest abuse and vituperation. 

The leaders of Berlin Judaism were at a loss how 
to oppose these systematic onslaughts. David 
Friedlander remained silent. Ben-David resolved 
to write an answer, but wisely abstained. The 
parts were now changed. In the days of Mendels- 
sohn, and for some time afterwards, the German 
Jews had acted as guardians to the French Jews 
whenever the latter had any grievances to redress. 
Now freedom had made the French Jews so power- 
ful and confident that they repulsed every attack 
upon themselves and their belief with courage and 
skill. The Berlin Jews, who had always been ready 
enough to boast of their courage, at the first hostile 
attack found thejnselves helpless as babes. In their 
perplexity they solicited the aid of the police, who 
issued an order that no pamphlet either for or 
against the Jews should be published. This step 
was regarded by their antagonists as a sign of 
cowardice or a confession of powerlessness. A new 
abusive tract, entitled "Can the Jews remain in their 
present condition without harm to the state? 1 ' gave 
additional weight to the accusations against them. 

" What were a number of the most wealthy Jews or their fathers 
twenty or thirty years ago ? Hawkers, who crawled about the streets 
in ragged clothes, annoying the passers-by with their importunity to 
buy some yards of Potsdam hair riband ; or rustics, who, under the 
pretext of trading, stole into Christian dwellings, and often did damage 
to their owners." 

This writer proposed to render the Jews harmless 
by means more revolting than those employed in 
the Middle Ages, 


" Not only must the Jews again be enclosed in a Ghetto, and be 
placed under continual police supervision ; not only should they be 
compelled to wear a patch of noticeable color upon their coat sleeves, 
but in order to prevent their increase, the second male child of each 
Jew should be castrated." 

Protestant theology and German philosophy pro- 
posed regulations against the Jews unrivaled by the 
canonical decrees of Popes Innocent HI and Paul IV. 

In Breslau appeared similar libels which inflamed 
the hatred of the populace against the Jews. Even 
the well-meaning writings composed in their defense 
by Christians, such as Kosmann and Ramson "A 
Word to the Impartial " admitted the low charac- 
ter of the Jews, and seemed to imply that in every 
way it would be better for Christians if there were 
no Jews among them; but seeing that the evil ex- 
isted, it must be endured. The honor of the Ger- 
mans was partly redeemed by a man who belonged 
to the olden time, Freiherr von Diebitsch, once a 
major in the Russian service, to whom love of man- 
kind was no empty phrase. He warmly defended 
the Jews against the venomous attacks of Gratten- 
auer and his malicious allies (1803 and 1804), and 
thereby laid himself open to the charge of having 
been bribed. In view of the general prejudice 
against the Jewish race, he was prepared to see 
himself "caricatured, and represented as riding 
upon a sow or an ass." His kindly but pedantic 
pamphlets in defense of the Jews were not sufficient 
to close the mouths of their opponents. 

Equally inadequate and fruitless were the at- 
tempts at vindication made by Jewish writers out- 
side of Berlin, who found it necessary to lift their 
voice in opposition to the general outcry against 
their people. 

Two Jews, one from Konigsberg, the other from 
Hamburg, hit upon an excellent plan. Both recog- 
nized that the Jew hatred of the Germans could not 
be refuted by solid and weighty arguments, but 
might be silenced by ridicule. They were the fore- 


runners of Borne and Heine, one being an unknown 
physician, the other writing anonymously (Lefrank). 
The former, in a satirical pamphlet written under 
the name of Dominicus Haman Epiphanes, ex- 
pressed the opinion that unless all Jews were 
speedily massacred, and all Jewesses sold as slaves, 
the world, Christianity, and all states, must neces- 
sarily perish. Mankind would benefit enormously 
by the sale of the Jews : all immorality would 
thereby at once diminish, and the immortal Gratten- 
auer, who had originated the glorious idea and 
had disseminated his noble abhorrence of the Jews, 
would everywhere be acknowledged a benefactor of 
mankind, and be deservedly commemorated by 
temples and monuments. 

The other satirist, Lefrank, called his work 
"Bellerophon," (or the defeated Grattenauer). He 
wished to kill the chimerical monster "Jew hatred" 
in Grattenauer by mounting Pegasus. He addressed 
the Jew-baiter with the scornful " thou." 

"Thou who hast grafted with so much success jurisprudence upon 
theology, thou who didst lick salt in Halle not indeed Attic salt 
thou who hast studied ignorance and stupidity under the great 
Semler, if thou art so proud of thy Christianity, that with contempt 
thou dost look down upon Jews, then pray let ine ask thee why thy 
prisons are crammed with criminals condemned upon charges of high 
treason, murder, poisoning, robbery, and adultery? First remove 
from thy midst the scaffold, the gallows, the rack, the scourge, and 
all the ghastly instruments of torture and death, not one of which was 
invented by Jews. Divest thyself of the demon, and then wilt thou 
pity a people condemned to engage in traffic against its will, and 
accused because it does traffic. Deceit is said to be a widespread 
vice among Jews. Thy Christian tailor robs thee, thy bootmaker 
gives thee bad leather, thy grocer false measure and weight, thy baker 
despite prosperous harvests undersized loaves. Thy wine is adul- 
terated, thy man-servant and thy maid-servant combine to cheat thee. 
Thou thyself in theinnocence of thy heart offerest for sale wretched 
lies and spiteful malice written upon blotting-paper, for six farthings, 
which are not worth six pins, and thou darest assert that fraud is 
peculiar to Jews. See whether among all the bankruptcies now 
occurring in London and Paris there is a single Jewish failure." 
" Thou dost foolishly repeat the silly prattle of the great Fichte, when 
thou dost remark that the Jews constitute a state within the state. 
Thou canst not forgive the Jews the crime of speaking correct 
German, of dressing more respectably, and often judging more 
justly than thou. They no longer wear beards, which thou canst 


pull ; they no longer speak gibberish, which thou mightest mimic. 
.... The Jew for over twenty years has striven to approach 
the Christian, but how has he been received ? How many altera- 
tions has he made in his canonical laws to be able to join you ; 

but from pure humanity ye turn your backs upon him Yet 

thy pamphlet appears to me to be a good omen. The average man 
believes that winter can be parted from summer only by terrible 
thunder and hail-storms. Thus is it with thee. Persecution, fanati- 
cism, and superstition are at their last gasp, and by mighty raging 
make their final effort through thee, before their spirit becomes 
entirely quenched." 

The self-confidence manifested by Lefrank was 
the surest sign of the ultimate victory of the Jews. 

Under existing conditions, in view of the fact that 
the Jews were apt to underrate and despise their 
own power, the hope of emancipation was deceptive. 
In Protestant as well as in Catholic countries, in 
Prussia as well as in Austria, the people were even 
more blindly opposed to them than their princes. 
That an Austrian voice might not be wanting in the 
chorus of Jew-baiters, a German-Austrian official, 
named Joseph Rohrer (1804), wrote against the 
44 Jew people." He drew a dreadful picture, espec- 
ially of the Jews of Galicia, without hinting that the 
Galician peasants were in a still lower state, and 
that the nobility was more degenerate than either 
class. Paalzow, Grattenauer, Buchholz, Rohrer, and 
their allies succeeded in their design. The idea of 
the emancipation of the Jews in Germany could not 
yet be entertained. With all his zeal, Breidenbach 
could not effect the abolition of the capitation-tax in 
all places. It still remained in force, a sad reminder 
and disgrace, in certain German provinces. Cannon 
had to be brought into the field to destroy these 
putrefying, deeply implanted prejudices. 

A ray of light from the sun of freedom shining on 
the Jews of France penetrated even to Russia. 
The heart of Emperor Alexander I was filled with 
mercy towards the numberless Jews dwelling In his 
kingdom. He appointed a commission to consider 
a proposal for improving .their condition. But a 


Russian commission takes time over its work, and 
after two years' careful consideration of the inter- 
ests of Christians, and of the most effectual way of 
benefiting the Israelites, an ukase was at length 
published in 1804. By this law, farmers, manufac- 
turers, artisans, those who had acquired a university 
education, or who had visited the upper or lower 
schools, were exempt from the exceptional laws 
against Jews. To wean them from using the jargon, 
special privileges were granted to those who would 
learn one of three languages Russian, Polish, or 
German. The culture of the Jews within his king- 
dom was desired by Alexander, who hoped that 
another Mendelssohn would spring from their 
midst. Attendance at schools was not enforced ; it 
therefore depended on the Jewish community to 
support boys' schools (Chedarim) as best they could. 
Nor could it be otherwise amongst the millions of 
serfs in Russia, not one of whom was permitted to 
visit a school. 

A limitation was, however, introduced at that 
time which nullified all privileges in favor of the 
Jews. Those who dwelt in the country were ordered 
to depart within a short space of time and crowd 
together in the cities. Cruel subtlety dictated this 
order. The Polish landowners, who from indolence 
had given over the care of their breweries and the 
sale of produce to industrious and trustworthy 
Jewish managers and farmers, were ruined by the 
removal of the Jews from the villages, and thus 
rendered incapable of revolt. This law could not 
be carried out for the time being, but remained in 
existence as a dead letter, until later days. The 
worst result was that the Jews were treated as 
strangers, although they had been more than half 
a century in the Polish provinces. Naturally they 
did not advance in culture, being hindered and per- 
secuted by Rabbinism, and even more so by Neo- 



Jew-Hatred in Strasburg Bonald's Accusations Plots against 
French Jews Furtado David Sinzheim Assembly of Nota- 
blesItalian Deputies The Twelve Questions Debate on Mixed 
Marriages The Paris Synhedrion Its Constitution Napoleon's 
Enactments Israel Jacobson Consistory of Westphalia- 
Emancipation in Germany In the Hanse-Towns Restrictions 
in Saxony. 

18061813 c. E. 

SINCE the days of the Romans, the world had not 
witnessed such sudden changes and catastrophes 
as in the beginning of this century, when a new 
Empire was founded with the intention of establish- 
ing a universal monarchy. All the powers bent even 
lower before Napoleon, Emperor of the French, 
than before the First Consul Bonaparte. The pope, 
who in his heart cursed him and the whole new 
order, did not hesitate to anoint him successor to 
Charlemagne. The German princes were the first 
to recognize cringingly this innovation, the elevation 
of an upstart over themselves. As if Napoleon by 
contact with the Germans during his wars against 
Austria and Prussia had become infected with their 
Jew-hatred, his feelings with reference to them from 
that time underwent a change. Although he had 
before shown admiration for the venerable antiquity 
and gigantic struggles of the Jewish race, he now 
displayed a positive dislike to them. His unfavor- 
able attitude towards the Jews was used by the 
Germans in Alsace to induce him to deprive the 
French Jews of their privileges and reduce them to 
their former state of abasement. 

The storms of the Revolution had put an end to 
the old accusations against the Jews of Alsace. 



Jewish creditors, usurers, Christian debtors were 
alike impoverished by the Reign of Terror ; the 
olden times were swept away. When quiet was 
restored, many Jews, who through their energy had 
acquired some property again, went back to their 
former trades. What else could they do? To 
commence to learn handicrafts and agriculture could 
not be expected of men advanced in years. Even 
young men found it difficult, as bigoted Christian 
employers in the German-speaking provinces did 
not care to take Jewish apprentices. A numerous 
class of the populace of Alsace offered well-to-do 
Jews a source of income. The peasants and day- 
laborers, before the Revolution serfs, had been 
liberated through it, but possessed no means where- 
with to purchase land and commence work. Their 
cattle and even their implements of agriculture were 
lost during the stormy years ; and many of them 
had fled to escape military service. These peasants, 
on the return of peace, had addressed themselves 
to Jews for advances of money, to obtain small 
parcels of the national land for cultivation. 

The Jewish men of substance had responded, and 
probably demanded high rates of interest. The 
peasants, however, were not the losers, for, although 
originally destitute of means, they had greatly 
improved their condition. In a few years their pos- 
sessions in landed property amounted to 60 million 
francs, the sixth part of which they owed to Jews. 
It was, indeed, hard for the peasants of Alsace to 
obtain ready money to discharge debts to their 
Jewish creditors, especially as the wars of Bonaparte 
called them away from the plough to bear arms, and 
many lawsuits ensued against the debtors. The 
Strasburg Trade Court of Justice alone, during the 
years 1802-4, had to decide upon summonses for 
debt between Jewish creditors and Christian debtors 
amounting to 800,000 francs. The defaulting peas- 
ants were sentenced to hand over their fields and 


vineyards to the Jewish creditors, some of whom 
may have acted harshly in these matters. 

These circumstances were made use of by the 
Jew-haters. They generalized the misdeeds of the 
Jews, exaggerated the sufferings- of the Christian 
debtors forced to pay, and stamped the Jews as 
usurers and bloodsuckers, so as to deprive the 
French Jews living in their provinces of their recently- 
acquired equalization, or if possible to prepare some 
worse fate for them. As at all times, the citizens of 
the German town of Strasburg took the most prom- 
inent part in this movement against the Jews. They 
had made a vain attempt to keep the Jews out of 
their city and to persecute them during the Reign of 
Terror. With fierce rage they beheld the number 
of Jewish immigrants increase. There were no 
Jewish usurers in their midst ; on the contrary, there 
were wealthy, highly respected, and educated Jews, 
such as the families of Cerf-Berr, Ratisbonne, and 
Picard, most of whom lived from their estates. 
Nevertheless the people of Strasburg raised the 
loudest clamors against the Jews, as if the latter 
were the cause of their impoverishment. The pre- 
fect of Strasburg, a German, aided and abetted the 
merchants. When Napoleon stayed in Strasburg 
(January, 1806), after the campaign of a hundred 
days against Austria, he was besieged by the pre- 
fect and a deputation of the people of Alsace with 
complaints showing how harmful to the state were 
the Jews ; how like a crowd of ravens they ruined 
the Christian populace, so that whole villages passed 
into the possession of Jewish usurers, how half the 
estates of Alsace were mortgaged to Jewish creditors, 
and other malicious charges. Napoleon thereupon 
called to mind that during his campaign some Jews 
near Ulm had bought stolen articles from the 
soldiers, which had greatly displeased him. The 
Jew-haters suggested that these may have been 
Strasburg Jews, who followed in the track of the 


army in order to enrich themselves by means of the 
booty ; and that all Jews were usurers, hawkers, and 
ragmen. ^ To incite the emperor still more to acts 
of hostility, the following grave statement was 
added that, in the whole of Alsace, indeed, in all 
the (German) Departments of the Upper and Lower 
Rhine, the people were so embittered against the 
Jews that a general massacre, scenes such as were 
witnessed in the Middle Ages, might ensue. In 
taprooms the question of slaughtering the Jews 
was often discussed. His mind filled with such evil 
impressions, Napoleon left Strasburg, promising 
redress of these grievances. That this impression 
might not fade away, the enemies of the Jews 
besieged the minister of justice with loud complaints 
about the baseness and hurtfulness of the Jews. 
Judges, prefects, all German-speaking officials vied 
with each other in attempts to deprive the Jews of 
their civil rights. The minister of justice, carried 
away by the complaints, was actually on the point of 
putting an exceptional law into force against the 
Jews of France, forbidding them for a time to do any 
business in mortgages. 

Mingled with this Jew-hatred, which arose from 
the petty jealousy of guild members, and from fear 
of excessive competition, were the bigoted and 
gloomy views of the reactionary party, who com- 
menced to spin their network of schemes in order 
to suppress mental freedom, the mother, so to speak, 
of political liberty. One of the chief representatives 
of this party, hostile to liberty, and skilled in intrigues, 
was Louis Gabriel Ambroise Bonald, a man 
of kindred spirit to Gentz, Adam Mtiller, and others 
of like caliber, who, together with the romanticist 
Chateaubriand, and Fontanes, a past-master of 
flattery, brought about the most terrible religious 
and political reaction. Bonald, who, after short- 
lived enthusiasm for liberty, unfurled the flag of the 
Bourbon Legitimists, and glorified it with mystical- 


Catholic inanities, beheld in the liberation of the 
Jews a diminution of the power of the Church, and 
employed means to undermine their equalization in 
France. He wished to lower them to the level of 
such despicable beings as the Church required for 
its purposes. In a paper which he issued conjointly 
with Chateaubriand for the purpose of maintaining 
the Ultramontane power, he attacked the Jews with 
sophistical eloquence. He envied the Germans 
because, more reasonable and prudent than the 
French, they had remitted only the capitation-tax, and 
and had otherwise kept the Jews in subjection. He 
blamed the National Assembly for having conceded 
all rights without considering that when the French 
Jews were released from the yoke, they might easily 
act in concert with their co-religionists in other 
countries to secure all influence and all wealth to 
themselves and enslave the Christians. Bonald 
again gave utterance to that venomous slander 
which a venal, unscrupulous Alsatian had circulated 
in a pamphlet before the Revolution. His recurring 
statements were that the Jews were ever in conflict 
with morality, that they formed a state within a 
state, and that most of them were vampires and 
petty traders, among whom the high-minded disap- 
peared. Bonald concluded his list of charges with 
an opinion which stigmatized the French nation 
as much as the Jews. "If the latter are ever 
permitted to enjoy independence and frame laws, 
then a Jewish Synhedrion would not establish more 
nonsensical or unworthy laws than the Constituent 
Assembly of philosophers has established." 

It was a fortunate circumstance for the future of 
the Jews that the enemies of freedom as well as 
orthodox Christians included Jew-hatred in their 
programme, because this impelled friends of liberty 
to defend the cause of the Jews in part as their own. 
But for the moment, Bonald's Jew-hating attempts 
greatly harmed them. They were approved by 


those who strove to retard the advancing spirit of 
the age, and in a roundabout way were dinned into 
the ear of Napoleon. The French Jews had no 
idea of the extent of this agitation, they imagined 
that it concerned only the Jewish usurers in Alsace, 
and that it did not affect the honor, position, and 
existence of all, and therefore they did not suf- 
ficiently oppose it. 

Matters now assumed a serious complexion. 
Napoleon laid the Jewish question for discussion 
before his council, which entrusted it to a young 
member, a Count Mole, known in later French 
history as the prototype of ambiguity. To the sur- 
prise of all the elder and more influential members 
of the council, Mole, whose great-grandmother was 
a Jewess, presented a report decidedly hostile to 
the Jews, suggesting that all French Jews be placed 
under exceptional laws, which meant that their 
legally acknowledged and practically realized equal- 
ity was to be taken from them. His report was 
received with deserved derision by the oldest 
members of the council, who were so imbued with 
the principle of absolute equality sanctified by the 
Revolution, that they could not conceive that a 
creditor suing for payment from his debtor could 
have a right to inquire into his religious belief. 
They suspected that Mol6 was in league with the 
reactionary politicians Fontanes and Bonald, who 
were anxious to offer up the Jews as the first sacri- 
fice to their retrograde policy. Mole, however, 
appears to have sought to curry favor with the 
emperor, who, as he knew, was not kindly disposed 
towards the Jews. Although all the councilors 
were in favor of their unabridged civil rights, the 
Jewish question was to be brought up at the regular 
session of the state council under the presidency of 
Napoleon (April 30, 1806), who attached great 
importance to the matter. 

It was a fateful moment when these questions, 


settled long ago, again came up for discussion. 
The weal and woe not alone of the French and 
Italian Jews, but of those in all Europe, depended 
upon the issue of this consultation. For if the 
equalization of the Jews of the former countries was 
in any way threatened, those of other countries 
would be doomed to remain in a state of degrada- 
tion and oppression for a long time to come. The 
sitting was stormy. It happened unfortunately that 
a recently elected state councilor named Beugnot, 
who in the absence of the emperor had spoken 
with great spirit and address in favor of the Jews, 
wished to display his eloquence before the emperor. 
He therefore made use of the following unlucky 
phrase: "To deprive the Jews of their full civil 
rights were like a battle lost on the field of justice/' 
Napoleon was annoyed. Both the tone and matter 
of Beugnot's speech sorely displeased him. It 
vexed him that his prejudices against the Jews 
should be regarded as unfounded. Beugnot aroused 
his passion, he spoke against theorists and pro- 
pounders of principles, and allowed his anger to 
outrun his discretion. He spo^-e of the Jews as 
Fichte had done, saying that they constituted a 
state within a state, being the feudal nobles of the 
time; that they could not be placed in the same 
category with Catholics and Protestants, because, 
besides not being citizens of the country, they were 
a dangerous element. The keys of France, Alsace 
and Strasburg, should not be allowed to fall into 
the hands of a nation of spies. It would be prudent 
to suffer only 50,000 Jews in the districts of the 
Upper and Lower Rhine, to scatter the remainder 
throughout France, and prohibit them from engag- 
ing in trade, because they corrupted it by usury. 
He made other accusations which he had learnt 
from the Jew-haters. In spite of this speech, two 
councilors of importance, Regnault and Segur, 
ventured to speak on behalf of the Jews, or of justice. 


They pointed out that the Jews in Bordeaux, 
Marseilles, and the Italian cities belonging to France, 
like those in Holland, were held in the highest 
esteem, and that the offenses charged! against the 
Jews of Alsace should not be imputed to Judaism, 
but rather to their unhappy condition. They suc- 
ceeded in mollifying Napoleon's wrath for the 
moment, and a second session decided the matter. 

Meantime some influential persons succeeded in 
impressing Napoleon with a better opinion of the 
Jews. They called to his attention how quickly 
they had become proficient in the arts and sciences, 
in agriculture and handicrafts. Persons were pointed 
out to him who had been decorated with the Order 
of the Legion of Honor, or who had received pen- 
sions for courage in war, and that, therefore, it was 
slander to call all Jews usurers and hawkers. At 
the second sitting of the state council (May 7, 1806) 
Napoleon spoke in a milder tone of the Jews. He 
rejected the proposal made to him to expel Jewish 
peddlers, and endow the tribunals of justice with 
unlimited authority over usurers. He desired to do 
nothing that might be disapproved by posterity, or 
darken his fame. Nevertheless, he could not free 
himself from the prejudice that the Jewish people, 
from the most ancient times, even from the days of 
Moses, had been usurers and extortioners. He was, 
however, determined not to permit any persecution 
or neglect of the Jews. He then conceived the 
happy thought or it may have been suggested to 
him to bring together a number of Jews from var- 
ious provinces, who were to tell him whether Judaism 
demanded of its adherents hatred and oppression 
of Christians. The Jews themselves, through the 
medium of their representatives, were to decide 
their fate. 

The decree which announced this resolution (May 
30, 1806) was couched in harsh terms. Napoleon 
himself, it appears, gave it the last touches whilst in 


an angry mood. The first part of the decree ran 
as follows: "The claims of Jewish creditors in 
certain provinces may not be collected within the 
space of a year." The second part ordered the 
assembly of Jewish notables. The reason for their 
meeting was such as to satisfy the Bonalds. Cer- 
tain Jews in the northern districts having by usury 
brought misery upon many peasants, the emperor 
had deprived them of civil equality. But he had 
also considered it necessary to awaken in all who 
professed the Jewish religion in France a feeling of 
civic morality, which, owing to their debasement, had 
become almost extinct amongst them. For this 
purpose Jewish notables were to express their 
wishes and suggest means whereby skilled work 
and useful occupations would become general among 
Jews. Thus, for a time at least, a portion of the 
Jews of France were deprived of their rights of 
equality. But balm might be expected from the 
Assembly of Notables for the wounds inflicted by 
Napoleon. The prefects were required to select 
prominent persons from among the rabbis and the 
laity, who, on a fixed day, should present themselves 
" in the good city of Paris." Not only the congre- 
gations of the old French provinces, but also those 
in the new ones, in the district on the left bank of 
the Rhine, were to be represented by deputies. 
The Italian Jews, who applied for permission to take 
part in this meeting, were likewise admitted. 

Although the notables were somewhat arbitrarily 
chosen by the magistrates, on the whole their selec- 
tions were fortunate. Among the hundred and 
more notables of French, German, and Italian 
speech, the majority were fully aware of the magni- 
tude and importance of their task. They had to 
defend Judaism before the eyes of all Europe a 
difficult but grateful task. Among them were men 
who had already gained fame, such as Berr Isaac 
Berr, his promising son, Michael Berr (who had 


issued the summons to princes and nations, to 
release the Jews from bondage), and Abraham Fur- 
tado, the partisan of the Girondists, who had suf- 
fered for his political opinions, and was a man of 
noble mind and great foresight. His descent is 
interesting. His parents were Marranos in Portu- 
gal, but in spite of the family's outward adherence 
to the Church during two hundred years, his mother 
had not forgotten her origin and her attachment to 
Judaism. When the terrible earthquake made 
Lisbon a heap of ruins, Furtado's parents were 
overwhelmed by their falling house his father 
killed, but his mother, who was with child, entombed 
in a living grave. She vowed that if God would 
save her from this danger, she would, in spite of all 
difficulties, openly embrace Judaism. A fresh shock 
opened her tomb. She succeeded in escaping from 
this place of horror, made her way to London, and 
there publicly returned to Judaism. Here her son 
Abraham was born, whom she brought up as a Jew. 
Abraham Furtado was well acquainted with Jewish 
literature ; he collected materials for a Jewish his- 
tory, and paid particular attention to the Book of 
Job ; but his Jewish knowledge was mere dilettante- 
ism, without thoroughness. His favorite study 
was natural science. During the Revolution, Fur- 
tado belonged to the commission appointed to make 
proposals for ameliorating the condition of the 
French Jews. During the Reign of Terror, and as 
a supporter of the Girondists, his life was endan- 
gered and his property confiscated. By assiduous 
industry he had enabled himself to purchase an 
estate in Bordeaux. Next to the elder and younger 
Berrs, Furtado was the brightest ornament of the 
assembly; he was an eloquent speaker, and pos- 
sessed great tact in public affairs. 

A happy choice was that of Rabbi Joseph 
David Sinzheim, of Strasburg (born 1745, died 
1812). He was a man of almost patriarchal char- 


acter, of the deepest moral earnestness, and of a 
most lovable, gentle nature. Well furnished with 
means, and the brother-in-law of the wealthy Cerf 
Berr, Sinzheim devoted himself to the study of the 
Talmud, not from any mercenary purpose, but from 
inclination. His acquaintance with Talmudical and 
Rabbinical literature was astounding, but he ^ was 
lacking in depth. His education prevented his 
being interested in other branches of science, but 
at least he had no antipathy to them. During the 
Reign of Terror, which caused the Jews in Jew- 
hating Strasburg to suffer severely, he was com- 
pelled to flee for safety, and could not return until 
peace was restored. The number of the Jews in 
Strasburg increased under the Directory and 
Napoleon. They formed themselves into a con- 
gregation, appointing Sinzheim as their first rabbi. 
Thence he was summoned to Paris to attend the 
Assembly of Notables. He was considered the 
most eminent French Talmudist, and became the 
leader of the orthodox party. Besides Sinzheim, 
only one rabbi was prominent, the Portuguese 
Rabbi Abraham Andrade, from Saint-Esprit ; the 
majority of the members were laymen. 

With trembling hearts about a hundred Jewish 
Notables from the French and German departments 
assembled. They . had no plan, as they did not 
know precisely what were the emperor's intentions. 
A summons from the minister, addressed to each 
member singly (July 23, 1806), enlightened them but 
little. They learnt that in three days' time, on a 
Sabbath, they were to hold a meeting in a hall of 
the H6tel de Ville set apart for them. There the 
assembly was to organize, and they were to answer 
the questions which imperial commissioners would 
lay before them. The purpose was to make useful 
citizens of the Jews, bring.their religious belief into 
agreement with their duties as Frenchmen, refute 
the charges made against them, and remedy the 


evils which they had occasioned. The selection of 
Mole as imperial commissioner, together with Por- 
talis and Pasquier, who were to treat officially with 
the Assembly, was not calculated to quiet their fears. 
Mole had been the first to serve as a medium 
for the spread of the anti-Jewish slanders of Bonald 
and others. On the day before the opening of the 
Assembly (July 2 5), there appeared in the official jour- 
nal, the " Moniteur, " an account of the history of the 
Jews from the return from Babylon till that time. 
The French nation was thus to be acquainted with 
the importance of the questions now to be submitted 
to the Jews themselves. In rapid sequence the 
following circumstances were depicted : The 
independence and the dependence of the Jewish 
people, their victories and defeats ; their persecu- 
tion during the Middle Ages and the protection they 
found ; their scattered condition and their massacres ; 
the accusations directed against them ; their abase- 
ment and oppression in different countries inflicted 
by monarch after monarch, and by fluctuating opin- 
ions and policies. Jewish history thus received, so 
to speak, an official seal. That there were many 
errors and false statements in this account was not 
to be wondered at. At the command of the emperor, 
the Jewish religion, or Judaism, was officially 
expounded, with even greater display of ignorance. 
Two points were particularly emphasized, viz., .that 
the religious and moral separation of the Jews from 
the rest of the world, and the pursuit of usury to the 
injury of members of other creeds, if not prescribed, 
was at any rate tolerated by the Jewish law. " How 
otherwise is the fact to be explained," it was 
remarked at the conclusion of the official document, 
"that those Jews who at the present time extort 
high rates of interest, are most religious and follow 
the laws of the Talmud most faithfully?" The 
inference was to the last degree false. "Do we 
not see that the Portuguese J.ews, who do not sully 


themselves with usury, are less strict in their adher- 
ence to the Talmud ? Had the distinguished Jews in 
Germany, such as their famous Mendelssohn, great 
reverence for the rabbis ? Finally, are those men 
among us who devote themselves to the sciences 
orthodox Jews?" Thus Talmudical Judaism was 
once again represented as a stumbling-block^ the 
way of the progress of the Jews, not, indeed, in that 
spirit of hatred which prevailed in Germany ; but it 
was laid open to attack, and that, too, before a pub- 
lic, so to say a European, tribunal. 

On the same day that the Jews formed the topic 
of conversation in Paris, the deputies assembled to 
decide upon a question of conscience. The first offi- 
cial meeting was to be held on Saturday, and the first 
business was the election of a president and of 
secretaries by means of written votes. It was 
the first time that representatives of the French, 
German, and Italian Jews came together, and the 
contrasts and variations developed during the last 
half century by the changes in the times, became 
apparent, all shades were represented, from the po- 
litician Furtado, to the rabbis who had spent all their 
lives in schools. They were expected to harmonize. 
At first they could not understand each other, but 
had to employ German and Italian interpreters. 
Was the public activity of the Jewish deputies to com- 
mence with the desecration of the Sabbath ? Or 
should they strictly adhere to the religious prohibi- 
tion, and thus give a handle to enemies of the Jews, 
who asserted that Judaism was incompatible with 
the exercise of civil functions? These serious 
questions occupied the minds of the members. 
The rabbis and the party of Berr Isaac Berr were of 
opinion tliat the first sitting should be postponed to 
another day, or at least that no election should take 
place. The less critical party, the politicians, urged 
that they prove to the emperor that Judaism can 
subordinate itself to the law of the land ; and the 
debate grew very violent. 


Thus the first Jewish Parliament in Paris assem- 
bled on a Sabbath, in a room of the Hotel 
de Ville, decorated with appropriate emblems. 
The deputies attended in full force, none were 
absent ; some of them intentionally came in carriages. 
Some of the stricter members again tried to have 
the first meeting postponed, but in vain. The 
dread of Napoleon's authority terrified those who 
as a rule paid scrupulous regard to religious ordin- 
ances. Under the chairmanship of Rabbi Solomon 
Lipmann, the oldest member, the election now pro- 
ceeded. The orthodox had provided themselves 
with ballot tickets, but most of the others wrote 
them out unabashed before the very eyes of the 
rabbis, whilst a few had theirs written for them. 
Only two men were qualified for the presidency, 
Berr Isaac Berr and F'urtado. The former was 
supported by the orthodox party, the latter by the 
politicians. Furtado obtained the majority of votes. 
With parliamentary tact he presided over the meet- 
ing. The deputies became fully conscious of the 
grave responsibility resting upon them, and proved 
themselves equal to their task. All were animated 
by a strong desire for unanimity. 

Even the German rabbis, who hitherto had been 
buried in the seclusion of the academies amidst the 
Talmud volumes, quickly adapted themselves to 
the new circumstances and to parliamentary forms. 
Certain deputies contributed to impress all present 
with a feeling of concord. The speech of the deputy 
Lipmann Cerf Berr had a remarkable effect, espec- 
ially the following words : 

"Let us forget our origin ! Let us no longer speak ot Jews of 
Alsace, of Portugal, or of Germany. Though scattered over the face 
of the globe, we are still one people worshiping the same God, and as 
our law commands us, we are to pbey the laws of the country where 
we live." 

When the officer of the guard of honor furnished 
for the meeting approached the newly-elected presi- 


dent to receive his orders, and when at the departure 
of the deputies, the guard greeted them with mili- 
tary honors and beat of drums, they felt themselves 
exalted, and their fear was turned to hope. 

This joyful expectation revived their courage, and 
enabled them to oppose the attacks of Jew-hating 
writers. Meantime the whole body of deputies from 
the kingdom of Italy arrived, and created a favorable 
impression by their bearing. Amongst them the 
spirit of the age manifested itself in difference of 
religious views and opinions, although not so sharply 
marked as among the French and German Jews. 

The most distinguished among the Jewish-Italian 
deputies was Abraham Vita di Cologna (born 1755, 
died in Trieste, 1832). He was well versed both 
in Rabbinical and scientific learning, of prepos- 
sessing appearance, and an elegant speaker. While 
rabbi of Mantua, he was elected a member of the 
Parliament of the Italian kingdom. His Talrnudical 
and secular knowledge, however, was neither com- 
prehensive nor deep. Cologna was in favor of the new 
tendency, which removed Judaism from its isolated 
position to imbue it with European ideas ; but both 
the means and end were not clearly defined in his 
mind, and he took no steps to carry out his wishes. 
An elder member of the Italian notables, Joshua 
Benzion Segre (born about 1720, died 1809), at once 
owner of an estate, rabbi, and municipal councilor of 
Vercelli, was also in favor of scientific studies, and 
belonged to the advanced party. The follies of the 
Kabbala still found many supporters among educated 
Italian Jews, although its first opponents had come 
from Italy. Benzion Segre was averse to the study, 
while the Italian deputy Graziadio (Chanannel) Nepi, 
rabbi and physician in Cinto (born 1760, died 1836),' 
was a^firm believer in it. He was exceedingly well 
read in Jewish literature, and compiled an alpha- 
betical register of the names of Jewish authors of 
ancient and modern times. 


At the second sitting (July 29), the three imperial 
commissioners solemnly propounded twelve ques- 
tions, which the Assembly were to answer conscien- 
tiously. The chief points were, whether the French 
Jews regarded France as their country, and French- 
men as their brothers ; whether they considered 
the laws of the state as binding upon them, and, 
by way of deduction from these two points, the 
incisive third question, "Can Jews legally inter- 
marry with Christians," and, lastly, whether usury 
in the case of non-Jews is permitted or forbidden. 
The remaining points referred to polygamy, divorce, 
and the authority of the rabbis, and were of a sub- 
ordinate nature. Most of the members could not 
listen to these queries without feeling pain that their 
love of country and their attachment to France 
should be called into question, notwithstanding that 
Jews had attested their patriotism by shedding their 
blood upon battlefields. From many sides rose a 
cry at these questions, " Aye, unto death." The 
address delivered by Mole on submitting these 
twelve questions was cold and to some extent offen- 
sive. Its contents were nearly as follows : The 
charges against various Jews had been proved. 
The emperor was, however, not satisfied to check 
the evil himself, but desired the assistance of the 
deputies. They were to state the whole truth in 
replying to the questions laid before them. The 
emperor permitted full liberty of discussion, but 
wished them to bear in mind that they were French- 
men, and would be relinquishing that honor unless 
they showed themselves worthy of it. The assembly 
now knew what was expected. They were brought 
face to face with the alternative of renouncing their 
equality or damaging Judaism. 

Furtado, in his reply to the speech of the commis- 
sioner, very cleverly turned the mistrust of the 
emperor into a semblance of trust. He said that 
fhe Jews welcomed the opportunity of answering 


these questions, to lay bare all errors and put an end 
to the prejudices entertained against them. The 
speech which Berr Isaac Berr delivered at this 
meeting was more sincere, more manly, and alto- 
gether more fervent. Furtado represented the 
Jews, but not Judaism ; he caused it to be under- 
stood that the Assembly should consider it a duty and 
an honor to obey every hint of the emperor. Berr 
gave dignified expression to the claims of Judaism. 
The duty of replying to the questions was assigned 
to a commission, which included, besides the presi- 
dent, the secretary, and the auditors, the four most 
eminent rabbis, Sinzheim, Andrade, De Cologna, 
and Segre, and two learned laymen. 

This commission handed over the chief part of their 
work to Rabbi David Sinzheim, the most scholarly 
and esteemed member of the assembly, who in a 
very short time completed his task to the satisfaction 
of his colleagues, of the imperial commissioners, 
and eventually of the emperor (July 30 till August 3). 
His report was submitted to the commissioners, 
who reported it to the emperor before it was brought 
up for public discussion. Napoleon was so pleased 
with the behavior of the Assembly that he announced 
his intention to grant an audience to all the members. 
In fact, their parliamentary tact, as displayed in the 
proceedings, filled him with such high regard towards 
them that he partially overcame his prejudices 
against the Jews. He had always pictured them as 
ragmen and usurers, with cringing, bent forms, or as 
sly, cunning flatterers lying in ambush for their prey ; 
and to his astonishment he beheld among the mem- 
bers men of fine character, intelligence, and imposing 
appearance. He thus acquired a better opinion of 
the Jews. It must be admitted that the incense 
offered him by the Assembly, as to a deity, did not 
leave him unmoved. On the other hand, the serious 
task placed before the Jewish deputies made them 
greater, exalted them above the common level, ideal- 


ized them.^ Their harmonious work aroused 
their enthusiasm, the orations intoxicated them, and 
even the sober German members became infected. 

At the third sitting (August 4), at the debate upon 
the replies to the various questions, the deputies 
were filled with self-confidence and the certainty of 
victory. No difficulty was offered by the first two 
questions whether polygamy was allowed among 
Jews, and whether the validity of a divorce granted 
by the French law was acknowledged by their reli- 
gious and moral code. These were decided according 
to the desire of the emperor without any injury to 
Judaism. But the third question aroused painful 
excitement, and revealed the opposition which had 
divided the Jews since the time of Mendelssohn 
4 'May a Jewess marry a Christian, or a Christian 
woman a Jew?" This question had given rise to 
heated debates in the commission, how much more 
in public assembly. Even the orthodox party felt 
that to reply unconditionally in the negative would 
be extremely perilous. The commission, however, 
had already supplied a clever answer, and if it is 
owing to Sinzheim's efforts, it redounds to his intel- 
lect and tact. At the outset it was skillfully explained 
that, according to the Bible, only marriages 
with Canaanite nations were forbidden. Even by 
the Talmud intermarriages were allowed, because 
the nations of Europe were not considered idolaters. 
The rabbis, to be sure, were opposed to such unions, 
seeing that the usual ceremonies could not be per- 
formed. They would refuse to bless such an union, 
as the Catholic priests refused their assistance on 
such occasions. This refusal, however, was of little 
consequence, as civil marriages were recognized by 
the state. At all events, the rabbis considered a 
Jew or Jewess who had contracted a union of this 
kind as a full co-religionist. 

The remaining questions were settled without 
any excitement in two sittings (August 7th and 


1 2th). The questions whether the Jews regarded 
Frenchmen as their brothers, and France as their 
country, were answered by the Assembly with a 
loud, enthusiastic affirmative. They were able to 
refer to the doctrines of Judaism, which in its three 
phases Biblical, Talmudical, and Rabbinical had 
always emphasized humanity and the brotherhood 
of man. Only one point in the report of the com- 
mission gave rise to a certain amount of friction, 
viz., that which seemed to ascribe a kind of super- 
iority to the Portuguese Jews, as if through their 
conduct they were held in higher esteem by 
Christians than the German Jews. This clause was 
therefore struck out. 

In answering the two questions relative to usury, 
the Assembly was able to demolish a deeply-rooted 
prejudice and place Judaism in a favorable light. 

The commissioner Mole, the first to yield to Jew- 
hatred and propose to exclude Jews from state 
offices, had now to declare publicly (September 18) 
that the emperor was satisfied with the intentions 
and zeal of the assembly. His speech on this 
occasion struck quite a different note to former 
ones. "Who, indeed," he exclaimed, " would not 
be astonished at the sight of this assembly of 
enlightened men, selected from among the descend- 
ants of the most ancient of nations ? If an individ- 
ual of past centuries could come to life, and if this 
scene met his gaze, would he not think himself 
transplanted within the walls of the Holy City? or 
might he not imagine that a thorough revolution 
in the affairs of man had taken place?" "His 
Majesty," continued Mole, "guarantees to you the 
free practice of your religion and the full enjoyment 
of your political rights ; but in exchange for these 
valuable privileges, he demands a religious surety 
that you will completely realize the principles 
expressed in your answers." 

What could the surety be? Napoleon then 


announced a surprising message, which filled the 
assembly with joyful astonishment and electrified 
them. "The emperor proposes to call together the 
great Synhedrion ! " This part of their national 
government, which had perished together with the 
Temple, and which alone had been endowed with 
authority in Israel, was now to be revived for the 
purpose of transforming the answers of the Assem- 
bly into decisions, which should command the high- 
est respect, equally with those of the Talmud, with 
Jews of all countries and throughout all centuries. 
Further, the Assembly was to make known the 
meeting of the great Synhedrion to all the syna- 
gogues in Europe, so that they send to Paris depu- 
ties capable of advising the government with intel- 
ligence, and worthy of belonging to this assembly. 
That the revived Synhedrion might possess the 
honorable and imposing character of its model, it 
was to be constituted on the pattern of the former 
one ; it was to consist of seventy-one members, 
and have a president (Nasi), a vice-president (Ab- 
Beth-Din), and a second vice-president (Chacham). 
This announcement made the deputies feel as if the 
ancient glory of Israel had suddenly risen from the 
tomb and once more assumed a solid shape. Three 
months previously they had been summoned to 
rescue their civil rights which were endangered, 
and now a new vista opened before them ; they 
seemed to behold their glorious past revived in the 
present, and assisted in the accomplishment of the 
dream ; and they were filled with amazement. 

Naturally, on receipt of this announcement, the 
Assembly passed enthusiastic motions and votes of 
thanks. They expressed their approval of every- 
thing which the commissioners had proposed or 
intimated. The Synhedrion was to be composed of 
two-thirds rabbis and one-third laymen, and was to 
include all the rabbis in the Assembly of Notables, 
together with others to be afterwards elected. The 


true importance of the Assembly now came to an 
end ; its duties now were merely perfunctory. The 
proclamation issued to the whole Jewish world 
(Tishri 24 October 6) was its only momentous 
action thereafter. It aimed at rousing the Jews to 
take an interest in the Synhcdrion and to send 
deputies. This proclamation was written in four 
languages, Hebrew, French, German, and Italian, 
and expressed the feelings which animated members 
of the Assembly, and the hopes entertained for the 
great Synhedrion : 

" A great event is about to take place, one which through a long 
series of centuries our fathers, and even we in our own times, did not 
expect to see, and which has now appeared before the eyes of the 
astonished world. The 2oth of October has been fixed as the date 
for the opening- of a Great Synhedrion in the capital of one of the 
most powerful Christian nations, and under the protection of the 
immortal Prince who rules over it. Paris will show the world a 
remarkable scene, and this ever memorable event will open to the 
dispersed remnants of the descendants of Abraham a period of deliv- 
erance and prosperity." 

The Jewish Parliament, and the re-establishment 
of a Synhedrion created much interest in Europe. 
The world was accustomed to Napoleon's feats of 
war and brilliant victories ; the power of his arms 
had ceased to astonish men. But that this admired 
and terrible hero should descend to the most 
ancient people, to raise and restore them to some 
of their lost splendor, caused, perhaps, more general 
surprise among Christians than among Jews. It 
was looked upon as a miraculous event, as marking 
a new era in the history of the world, in which a 
different state of things would prevail. Some 
Christian writers in Bamberg, at their head a Cath- 
olic priest (Gley), expected such abundant and 
important results from the Jewish assembly in Paris 
that they established a special newspaper, a kind of 
journal for the Jews. Only the Berlin illuminati 
David Friedlander's circle experienced an uncom- 
fortable sensation at the news, because they feared 


that^ through the Synhedrion in France, ancient 
Judaism might be revived in a new garb. They 
therefore declared the Synhedrion a juggler's per- 
formance, provided by Napoleon for his Parisians. 
Patriotism was also involved in this sense of uneasi- 
ness, for the Prussian Jews participated in the deep 
grief into which the people of Prussia and the royal 
family had been plunged by the defeats at Jena and 
Auerstadt (October 14, 1806). 

Four days after the dissolution of the Assembly 
of Notables (Adar 9 February 9, 1807), the Great 
Synhedrion, very different in character, assembled. 
It consisted, as mentioned above, for the greater 
part of rabbis, most of whom had been members of 
the Assembly of Notables. Twenty-five laymen 
from the same Assembly were added, and the 
ratification of the answers to the twelve questions 
according to the wishes of Napoleon was secured. 
To all appearances the great Synhedrion was to 
assemble and transact business according to its 
own pleasure. The commissioners were not to 
have any communications with it. The minister 
of the interior had chosen only the first three offi- 
cials : Sinzheim as President (Nasi), the grey-headed 
Segre as first Vice-President (Ab-Beth-Din), and 
Abraham di Cologna as second Vice-President 

After attending the synagogue, the Assembly 
made its way to the Hotel de Ville, and there the 
seventy members, in a hall specially decorated for 
them, took their seats according to seniority, by 
ancient custom in a semi-circle around the presi- 
dent. The sittings were public, and many specta- 
tors were present at them. The members of the 
Synhedrion were suitably attired in black garments, 
with silk capes and three-cornered hats. The 
meeting was opened by a prayer specially com- 
posed by Sinzheim. The speeches of Sinzheim 
and Furtado, with which the first meeting com- 
menced, were entirely appropriate to the situation. 


The second sitting (February 12) was occupied 
with the reading of the motions which the Synhed- 
rion was to sanction, together with the presentation 
of addresses from different congregations in France, 
Italy, and the Rhineland, and especially in Dresden 
and Neuwied, expressing their agreement with the 
assembly, and the reception of messengers to the 
Synhedrion from Amsterdam. 

The Synhedrion felt itself at a loss for subjects to 
discuss. The new matters which they had proposed 
to settle were left untouched. The Franco-Prus- 
sian war had caused the emperor to be forgetful of 
the Synhedrion and the Jews in general. There 
only remained for the members of the Synhed- 
rion to convert the replies of the previous 
assembly into definite, inviolable laws. The ques- 
tion as to the power of the new Synhedrion to 
impose binding laws, or whether it could be placed 
on the same basis as the ancient one, was not de- 
bated. The rabbis overcame this scruple by arguing 
that each generation was permitted by the Talmud 
to institute suitable ordinances and make new 
decisions, and therefore, without further discussion, 
they declared themselves as constituted. Without 
demur, the Synhedrion adopted Furtado's disinte- 
grating view, that Judaism consisted of two wholly 
distinct elements the purely religious and the polit- 
ical-legislative laws. The first mentioned are unal- 
terable ; the latter, on the other hand, which have lost 
their significance since the downfall of the Jewish 
state, can be set aside. The inferences from this 
difference, however, could not be drawn by any 
individual, but only by an authorized assembly, a 
great Synhedrion, which owing to unfavorable cir- 
cumstances had never been able to assemble. The 
Synhedrion was, therefore, no innovation. The 
following highly important paragraph with reference 
to marriage was also passed without opposition : 
That not only must the civil marriage precede the 
religious ceremony, but that intermarriages between 


Jews and Christians were to be considered binding, 
and although they were not attended by any reli- 
gious forms, yet no religious interdict could be passed 
upon them. In this evasive manner the Synhedrion 
satisfied its own conscience and the suspicions of the 
imperial officers. 

As the Synhedrion had no actual business to 
transact, the time of the sittings was filled up with 
speeches delivered by Furtado, Hildesheimer, the 
deputy from Frankfort, Asser, the deputy from 
Amsterdam, and finally by Sinzheim, who made the 
closing speech. The new decisions of the Synhed- 
rion, drawn up in French and Hebrew, enacted the 
following : That it is prohibited for any Jew to 
marry more than one wife ; that divorce by the 
Jewish law was effective only when preceded 
by that of the civil authorities ; and that a marriage 
likewise must be considered a civil contract first ; 
that every Israelite was religiously bound to con- 
sider his non-Jewish neighbors, who also recognize 
and worship God as the Creator, as brothers ; that 
he should love his country, defend it, and undertake 
military service, if called upon to do so ; that Judaism 
did not forbid any kind of handicraft and occupation, 
arid that, therefore, it was commendable for Israel- 
ites to engage in agriculture, handicrafts, and the 
arts, and to forsake trading ; and finally, that it was 
forbidden to Israelites to exact usury either from 
Jew or Christian. 

These new laws of the Synhedrion were of very 
limited scope. The Synhedrion had in view only 
the present, and did not look into the distant future. 
The Jews in general were not satisfied with its 
action and results. An English Jew, in a letter 
addressed to the members, boldly reproached them 
for having disowned, not alone Judaism, but all 
revealed religion. 

" Has any one of our brethren in Constantinople, Aleppo, Bagdad, 
Corfu, or one of our (English) communities been sent as a deputy tq 
you, or have they recorded their approval of your decisions ?" 


The French Government, however, had obtained 
the surety stipulated before the rights of citizenship 
would be legally recognized anew. At the proposi- 
tion of the commissioners the Synhedrion dissolved, 
and their resolutions were submitted to Napoleon, 
whose attention had been fixed on the Prusso-Rus- 
sian war, until owing to the decisive battle of Prus- 
sian Friedland the delusive peace of Tilsit was 
concluded. During Napoleon's absence, plans were 
secretly laid with the purpose of restricting the rights 
of the French Jews. The Jewish deputies, however, 
discovered this, and the indefatigable Furtado, 
together with Maurice Levy of Nancy, hastened from 
the Seine to the Niemen to acquaint the emperor 
with the agitation against the Jews ; and he remained 
prepossessed in favor of Judaism. 

After the dissolution of the Synhedrion the Assem- 
bly of Notables again convened to present their 
formal report to the authorities (March 25 April 6, 

After an interval of a year, Napoleon announced 
to the Jews his intentions with reference to legisla- 
tion on their behalf. He expressed (March 17, 
1808) his approval of the wretched consistorial organ- 
ization which degraded the officials of the syna- 
gogue to the level of policemen, and regulated the 
civil position of the Jews, or rather made encroach- 
ments on their hitherto favorable condition, although 
he repeatedly assured them that their equalization 
would suffer no restrictions. He had deceived all 
the world, and everywhere trodden freedom under 
foot ; how could he be expected to keep his word 
with the Jews and to leave their freedom unmolested ? 
The law suggests that the Jew-hating Mole framed 
it. It contained no word about the equalization of 
the Jews. No French Jew henceforth was to 
engage in any species of trade without having 
obtained the permission of the prefect, and his con- 
sent was to be granted only on the testimony of the 


civil magistrates and the consistory as to the good 
character of the applicant. Contracts of Jews 
who could not show a patent were null and void. 
The taking of pledges as security for a loan was 
also surrounded by limitations which savored of the 
Middle Ages. Further, no foreign Jew was to 
settle in the German departments, nor any from 
those departments in another district. Finally, the 
Jewish people were not allowed to procure substi- 
tutes for military service ; each Jew .who was chosen 
as a soldier had to enter the ranks. These restrictive 
laws were to remain in force for ten years, " in the 
hope that by the end of that period, and by the 
enforcement of various regulations, no difference 
whatever would exist between the Jews and the 
other citizens." 

Thus the Jews of France, the anchor of hope of 
their brethren in other countries, were once again 
humiliated and placed under exceptional legislation. 
The law enacted, indeed, that the Jews of Bordeaux 
and certain other departments who had given no 
cause for complaint should not be included under 
these new restrictions. Shortly afterwards, owing 
to their loud complaints, exceptions were made in 
favor of the Jews of Paris, Livorno, the department 
of the Lower Pyrenees, and of fifteen other districts 
in France and Italy, so that only the scapegoats, the 
German-speaking Jews in France, were deprived of 
their civil rights. But the odious stain which had 
been again fastened to the Jews adhered to the 
emancipated as well. Their opponents, who zeal- 
ously strove to check the elevation of the Jews, 
could now point to France, and urge that the race 
was indeed incapable of amendment, seeing that even 
where its members had been emancipated long since, 
they had to be deprived of their rights of equality. 

Napoleon's arm, powerful though it was, could 
not stem the flood once set in motion, by the liber- 
ation of oppressed nationalities and classes. By 


his own genius and impetuosity he increased the 
tumult of forces. After the subjection of Prussia, 
Napoleon called into existence, chiefly at the 
expense of this state, two new political creations, 
the duchy of Warsaw (avoiding the dangerous and 
magical title of kingdom of Poland), under the rule 
of the Electoral Prince of Saxony, and the kingdom of 
Westphalia under his brother Jerome (Hieronymus). 

In the latter kingdom, formed from the territories 
of many lords, the Jews obtained freedom and 
equalization. Napoleon framed the constitution of 
the new kingdom with the assistance of the states- 
men Beugnot, Johannes von Miiller, and partially 
also of Dohm, who, being friends of the Jews, had 
made their emancipation a feature. Jerome, juster 
and more honest than his brother, issued an edict 
(January 12, 1808) declaring all Jews of his state 
without exception to be full citizens, abolishing Jew- 
taxes of every description, allowing foreign Jews to 
reside in the country under the same protection as 
that afforded to Christian immigrants, and threat- 
ening with punishment the malicious who should 
derisively call a Jewish citizen of his state " protec- 
tion Jew" (Schutz-Jude). Michael Berr, the brave 
and. pious defender of Judaism, was summoned from 
France to accept office in the kingdom of West- 
phalia. Jews and Christians alike were filled with 
hope at this just treatment of German Jews, and 
the Jew-hating German University of Gottingen 
elected Berr a member. 

An important part was played at the new court 
in Cassel by Israel Jacobson (born at Halberstadt, 
1769; died at Berlin, 1828), who had been court 
agent, or councilor of finance, at the court of Bruns- 
wick. Although he cuts a figure in modern Jewish 
history, and was pleased to consider himself a Ger- 
man Furtado, yet he bore only external resemblance 
to this earnest Jewish patriot. The similarity lay in 
the fact that Jacobson possessed extraordinary flow 


of language and great vigor in carrying out his pro- 
jects, which talents, it must be admitted, he 
employed for ameliorating the condition of his co-re- 
ligionists. His wealth provided him with the means 
of realizing, or attempting, all the schemes which 
his active brain invented. Noble-minded, good- 
natured, ready for any sacrifice, and energetic, he 
kept one aim before him, the removal of the hateful, 
repulsive exterior of the Jews and Judaism, and the 
endeavor to render them externally attractive and 

To commemorate the day of the emancipation of 
the Jews, Jacobson caused a gold medal to be 
struck with the emblem of the union of hitherto 
antagonistic beliefs, and the Latin inscription : "To 
God and the fatherly king, united in the kingdom 
of Westphalia." At the instigation of Jacobson, 
the Jews of the kingdom of Westphalia were to be 
organized somewhat like their brethren in France. 
Twenty-two notables were summoned to Cassel, 
among whom the originator of the movement was 
naturally included. Jerome received them kindly, 
and spoke the memorable words on the occasion : 
that he was pleased to find that the constitution of 
his kingdom, which had been forced upon him, con- 
firmed the equality of all creeds, and in this respect 
entirely corresponded with his own ideas. In the 
commission appointed to draw up the plan for a 
Jewish consistory in the kingdom of Westphalia, 
Jacobson was naturally elected to the ^presidency. 
Michael Berr was also a member. The constitu- 
tion of the consistory, on the model of the French, 
was published at about the same time as the latter 
(March 3, 1808). In France a rabbi occupied the 
chief position, whilst in the German assembly 
Jacobson was to be president. He desired to be 
considered a rabbi, and even represented himself as 
one. The chief meeting-place of the Westphalian 
consistory was Cassel. Its authority was acknowl- 


edged on many subjects, and Jacobson was all-pow- 
erful, being ordered to consult the magistrates 
only upon important occasions. The consistory 
was also to be employed as a means of rousing pa- 
triotic feelings in the hearts of old and young on 
behalf of the House of Bonaparte. It especially 
busied itself with the debts of the various congre- 
gations, which were to be divided among the sev- 
eral communities, and thus paid off easily. 

Strange to say, one of the members of the con- 
sistory was a Christian, state councilor Merkel, who, 
acting as secretary, kept a watch upon the highest 
Jewish judicial authorities like a detective. In the 
French central consistory thoughtful, trusty men, 
who had given proofs of their abilities, were elected, 
such as David Sinzheim, the president, Abraham di 
Cologna, and Menahem Deutz, whose son after- 
wards obtained sad celebrity, men who knew how 
to bridge over the gap between the old times and 
the new; while Jacobson delighted in foolhardy 
leaps, and dragged his colleagues along with him. 
In transforming the condition of the congregations 
and the synagogues under his jurisdiction, he con- 
sulted with David Friedlander, standing almost 
within the pale of Christianity, and his col